Malawi Savings Bank bans Hijab

State-owned commercial bank, the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) has banned its female workers from wearing headscarves (Hijab) at work.

The bank has also warned employees that wearing of attire that depicts one’s religious affiliation such as full-faced Muslim ‘Hijab’ will not be condoned as this does not maintain the good image of the bank.

The ban is contained in the bank’s administrative notice – obtained by Nyasa Times – which was issued on November 3 by acting Chief Executive Office, Kayisi Sadala.

On the dress code, Sadala reminds staff that under the bank’s terms and conditions of service, they are required to maintain a “professional” and “businesslike” corporate image to their clients.

Ban: No headscarves for women workers at MSB

The bank said in the notice that “all members of staff are being reminded to report for duties while properly and neutrally attired.”

Workers are also advised to desist from wearing colours of political parties such as yellow (UDF), orange (People’s Party), green  (MCP), drak blue (Aford) and sky blue (DPP).

MSB said “no member of staff is allowed to report for work while dressed in attire which depict ones political or religious affiliation but one which maintains the good image of the bank.”

This has not gone down well with some staff members, especially Muslim women who wear the Hijaab or head scarf and Christians who put on a cross as a necklace since it is seen to be infringing upon their human rights and freedom of expression religiously.

“Mr Sadala as a Muslim should be the first to understand that religious dress code is something that is sacrilegious thus cannot be directed upon by the bank,” lamented one disappointed Muslim lady who opted for anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“ I am thinking of resigning should I be forced to ditch the hijaab as my religion is more important than any job I can get,” added the disappointed lady.

She urged the bank to stop the “patronising offence” against Muslim workers saying wearing Hijab was an expression of modesty and religious creed for them.

Hijab has been subjet of ban in some European countries on security issues but this has raised tension with the Muslim religion.

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