(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Jordanian Network of Civil Society Organisations issued a statement on Sunday condemning Vivian Salameh's dismissal by the Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank (JDIB) for refusing to abide by the bank's dress code, which requires female employees to wear a headscarf.
The statement, which The Jordan Times obtained from the Arab Women's Organisation (AWO), a member of the network, calls on the bank's management to "be just with Vivian Salameh and allow her to return to work".
Layla Naffa, director of projects at the AWO, told The Jordan Times that JDIB's "arbitrary dismissal" of Salameh was a violation of her rights both as a woman and as a Christian.
"We, as civil society groups working to defend human rights, condemn this decision. It is unacceptable because her initial contract did not include a head cover and because it is against her freedom and choice. It is a violation of her rights and freedom both as a woman and as a Christian."
Naffa said that the Ministry of Labour "bears blame because it approved the bank's decision without checking that the decision is in breach of the Constitution, which treats everyone equally".
The women's rights activists said that Salameh's dismissal was a "threat" to Jordanian women, both Christian and Muslim.
"This threatens all women in Jordan. It can be used as an excuse by employers to fire women, especially during this period when it is hard for people to find work," she said.
"This is against our customs and traditions in our society, which values tolerance. Christians and Muslims have lived as one family in Jordan, and this should not change," Naffa added.
The statement also condemns several incidents in which JDIB's management allegedly "harassed" Christian female employees by "limiting their role to administrative positions" and "banning them from using the lift" to prevent them from encountering clients.
"This is a great step. It gives me emotional support and, as a woman, I do not feel alone. My case is more of a public concern as a Jordanian woman rather than a personal problem," Salameh, who met with the AWO and other civil society groups on Saturday, told The Jordan Times.
Salameh confirmed that her lawyer had filed a suit against her former employer in the Labour Court on Tuesday, and that she was waiting on the date for the first hearing.
Eman Affaneh, JDIB's spokeswoman, told The Jordan Times that the bank still "holds the same position" on Salameh's dismissal.
She also denied recent reports saying that JDIB's Deputy CEO and Chief of Finance Khaled Alkaed had resigned due to disputes following Salameh's dismissal.
"It is a coincidence. He resigned around the same time she was dismissed, but it has nothing to do with it." Affaneh said.