Burka – Acid Test for Equal Opportunity Commission

Women in Burqa


Over the last few days, Njemile Alexander, a Muslim woman that wears a hijab claimed that she was denied employment at T&T retailer Wonderful World because of her head-wear. This situation gained media attention as she told her story on Facebook. It was indicated that the company would make a formal response in due course and the matter has been forwarded to the Equal Opportunity Commission.


Officials at Wonderful World, apparently are of the opinion that the hijab can be used as an area for concealment of the company’s products, which comprise of women’s accessories and underwear.

The decision reached by the Commission in this case can have long reaching implications either way.


[1] Commission Rules in favour of Mrs Alexander


This will set a precedent for all Muslims to feel free to wear all their head-wear with the confidence that if they are dismissed, they can get re-instated as well as damages. The hijab is only one of several types of special dress that Muslim women can use as seen in the picture below:


Muslim Headwear

Some countries have made moves to ban the Burka, because it is a security risk because it effectively hides the identity of the wearer, and it can be used to conceal Men in Burkasweapons and/or explosives. Also men can put on burkas and pass themselves off as women. The challenge would be to strike the right balance. While not wanting to infringe upon anyone’s religious freedoms, it must not be at the cost of the security of others.


Therefore if the hijab has to be accepted, how far will the envelope then be pushed on employers? Can you imagine a bank employee coming to work in a burka? All working uniforms will then go out of wack. But this is where this situation can end up.


[2] Commission Rules in favour of Wonderful World


In this case, other employers will be able to instruct their employees not to wear any sort of head-wear with confidence. However, the Muslim community may feel disenfranchised and discriminated against. Here we must remember what caused the 1990 attempted coup, and who were the perpetrators. What will be the extent of the response of the Muslim community? Will Wonder World become the victim of boycotts and other forms of protests? Can they afford to lose the patronage of the Muslim community during this time of recession?



Here is where the collective wisdom of the Equal Opportunity Commission will be tested. Moreover, seeing that T&T has a Muslim Attorney General, legislation should now be put into place concerning the wearing of Niqabs and Burkas in public places. The concealment of one’s face in public places can make solving crimes so much more difficult, even when there are working cameras present.


Posted by: Trini 2D Bone on