Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos in response to the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the case of Nadia Eweida v. The United Kingdom
The recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on 15 January 2013 in favour of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee and Egyptian Christian who was disallowed from wearing a cross to work, signifies the importance of the religious rights and freedoms of individuals within the United Kingdom and European Union.
Having found her employer in contravention of article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the Court honoured the rights and freedoms of Nadia Eweida to manifest her religious beliefs, indicating that a person’s faith should be a matter of private choice.
While thankful to the European Court for its positive involvement on this occasion, we also ask that Her Majesty’s Government and the judicial system within the United Kingdom continue upholding the same principles based on this ruling. It is of course unfortunate that this case needed to be referred to the European Court; had the judicial system within the United Kingdom dealt it in the same manner, it would have given a clear message that there is a clear regard for faith and religious practice. It would also have spared much wasted time, effort and expense over years that could have been put to much greater use in numerous directions.
Following from this ruling, it is also encouraged that the private and public sectors within the United Kingdom likewise honour these principles, as human rights and civil liberties should not purely be considered for certain matters and public opinion and policy, and not others.
Having provided personal and pastoral support for Nadia throughout her courageous effort to seek justice over the past 6 years I, along with The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, have considered her case one of extreme importance, offering support in laying a precedent for people who may be placed in a similar predicament. Witnessing the many parts of the world in which the significant human rights of faith and belief are limited or even revoked, whether passively or aggressively, we hold fast to calling for these God-given rights to be upheld and protected in the United Kingdom.