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Muslim warden finds cross too much to bear

Muslim warden finds cross too much to bear

Author: Michael Horsnell
Publication: The Times, UK
Date: May 14, 2002

A Muslim traffic warden yesterday lost a legal claim that a Christian cross on his uniform discriminated against his faith.

M'hammed Azzoui, a Moroccan, took exception to the badge worn by London's 500 Metropolitan police wardens on their caps because it featured a 5mm cross inside the Queen's crown.

Mr. Azzaoui, 38 also complained about the silver buttons on his uniform because they carried an even smaller version of the image.

In case that cost taxpayers an estimated 5,000 in legal fees, it emerged that at one stage, officials ordered alternative insignia to be designed for staff objecting to the uniform on religious ground.

But Mr Azzaoui, from Barking, east London resigned in protest last July, shortly before the end of a five-week training course. He was subsequently told he could resume his training without the badge and buttons, amide a string of concession, but he declined.

Represented by a law centre he then mounted a "trivial and vexatious" employment tribunal claim for race discrimination. Mr Azzaoui agreed to drop his claim yesterday, Minster before it was to be heard.

In return the police agreed to ask the tribunal in Croydon, south London, for only nominal costs of 200 against him. Carol Taylor, the tribunal chairman branded him "unreasonable" for pressing his claim after his demand were met.

Dijen Basu, the police barrister, said Mr Azzaoui had made many special requests. He said: "he asked not to be roistered to work on Fridays and that was agreed. He asked that he be sable to pray at lunchtimes and they agreed to that."

Me Basu said that when students were asked to senior staff and show respect to a senior staff member entering a room, Mr Azzoui said he was "a Muslim who could not rise to respect to a non-divine person".

Me Basu added: "It is patently obvious why the Met has the Christian cross on its insignia. Traffic wardens are employees of the crown."

The Metropolitan police deputy commissioner has now ruled that staff of different religious faith need not wear the badge or buttons.

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