Stewardess banned from carrying Bible
By David Millward, Transport Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:57am GMT 20/12/2006
A second airline is embroiled in a religious row after a stewardess decided to take bmi to an employment tribunal because it refused to allow her to carry a Bible on flights to Saudi Arabia.
The stewardess, who has not been named, claims that she has been subject to discrimination because of her faith.
She is understood to have deep religious convictions and carries a Bible with her at all times.
But bmi, which is the only British scheduled carrier to fly to the country after British Airways pulled out of the route, insisted that it was only following Foreign Office advice.
The dispute has erupted as British Airways seeks to settle its own dispute with Nadia Eweida, a Heathrow check-in worker, who has been banned from wearing a cross on a necklace while on duty.
A spokesman for bmi said the airline was complying with Saudi law and added that the stewardess had been offered the opportunity to switch to working on its short-haul routes. It could not, however, alter its long-haul rosters to accommodate her.
The Foreign Office website informs travellers to Saudi Arabia: "The importation and use of narcotics, alcohol, pork products and religious books, apart from the Koran, and artefacts are forbidden."
A spokesman said last night that the Saudi authorities would automatically confiscate a Bible from anybody trying to bring one into the country and it would not be returned.
A spokesman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide said: "It is worrying that a British company should be instructing its staff to conform to practices which are in violation of international standards on religious freedom.
"The Saudi government prohibits the public practice of other religions and the possession of non-Islamic religious objects has often led to arrests."