Heathrow Employee Sacked over Alleged Insult to Islam

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LONDON -- Nohad Halawi learned that in today's Britain, you'd better not be perceived as having insulted Islam at work because it could ruin your life.

Halawi worked the cosmetics counter in the duty free zone inside London's Heathrow Airport for 13 years. She was by all accounts hardworking and well-liked.

But when Halwai ran afoul of her Muslim co-workers, she was effectively fired.

"I didn't say anything wrong. I was complimenting a colleague of mine," she said.

Halawi, a Christian from Lebanon, was having a conversation in Arabic with a co-worker and praising a Muslim colleague when it was misinterpreted by another Muslim employee as an insult.

The False Accusation

"We were talking about something else and I said, 'Well, everyone is not like you. You are such an "alawi,' which means 'man of God' in any religion," she explained.

"And unbeknownst to me my accuser was standing quite close by and he just started jumping and shouting and in front of colleagues and passengers and everyone started telling me, 'You are insulting Islam,'" she continued.

It sounds like a ridiculous accusation, but rumors began to spread among Heathrow's many Muslim employees that Halawi was anti-Muslim. She was seen as a problem and eventually fired.

But Halawi isn't anti-Muslim. She is married to a Muslim. She spoke of the embarrassment of having to explain to family and friends that she lost her job because she was a "racist."

She said "it was all a total lie."

Halawi is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, headed by Andrea Williams.

"What happened to Nohad was totally unfair and grossly disproportionate," Williams told CBN News. "Actually, when you hear what she said, she was not giving offense at all. So, to be perceived to give offense to Allah, to the prophet Mohammed, means she lost the job she had had for many years and now finds herself living in fear of reprisals."

A Hotbed for Anti-Christian Proselytizing

She also was harassed for being a Christian and heard the name of Jesus mocked by Muslims.

But other things that Halawi witnessed at Heathrow Airport should make travelers who use Heathrow nervous.

Halawi heard Muslim employees there praising the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and Britain's 7/7 bombings.

She also saw Muslims bring the Koran to work; she said one man proselytized and handed out radical leaflets.

"And he just walks up to us and said, 'If you convert to Islam, all your pain will go away,'" she recalled. "And he told me and other colleagues that 'If you don't convert to Islam between now and the end of the world, you'll go to hell,' and 'Convert now because Islam is taking over.'"

When the employee was reported, Halawi said he was not fired.

Breaking Protocol for Muslims

Halawi saw a Muslim airport employee waived through security without having to show the proper credentials simply because he had a Muslim name on his name tag.

This is the same Heathrow Airport that, in 2006, saw a foiled plot in which liquids were to be smuggled through security to blow up American airliners over the Atlantic. 

Financially, Halawi has been ruined. She believes she is unemployable and has been battling depression.

"Who is going to give me a job when everyone knows 'I am a racist.' They've just basically ruined our lives," she said.

Heathrow Airport did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Britain Catering to Muslims?

But assuming Halawi's story is true, why is an airport in Christian Britain allowing the persecution of Christians like Halawi while protecting and boosting Islam?

"It's extraordinary how the authorities in our country bend over backwards to accommodate Islam," Williams stated.

The "protection" of Islam has been a nationwide phenomenon in Britain for years.

"I think there is a sense in which all of these things can only be understood in spiritual terms. And I think in Great Britain today, we are living in pagan times," Williams continued.

"We have been handed over and we're blinded. The nation is blinded. It is in corporate deception. And it is strange that while it ridicules Christianity, it will exclude Christianity from the public space, but it will make accommodation for Islam," she argued.

Halawi hasn't gotten any help from the courts in Britain. Her attorney, Paul Diamond, has appealed to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg where it should stand out as a clear case of religious discrimination.

Halawi is hoping the European Court cares more about the rights of Christians than Britain does.


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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at Facebook.com/DaleHurdNews.