A North Wales religious leader is evicted from a Tesco store after refusing to remove an item of clothing sacred to his faith. To the extent that a private sector still exists in the Anglophone world, Tesco is a private company, and I would support its right to discriminate among customers even if 23-year-old Daniel Jones were not the founder of the half-million strong International Church of Jediism. From the Manchester Guardian:
"It states in our Jedi doctrination that I can wear headwear. It just covers the back of my head," [Jones] said.
"You have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work but you have to wear a cover for your head when you are in public."
He said he'd gone to the store to buy something to eat during his lunch break when staff approached him and ordered him to the checkout where they explained he would have to remove the offending hood or leave the store.
"They said: 'Take it off', and I said: 'No, its part of my religion. It's part of my religious right.' I gave them a Jedi church business card.
"They weren't listening to me and were rude. They had three people around me. It was intimidating." Jones, who has made an official complaint to Tesco, is considering a boycott of the store and is seeking legal advice.
In a Daily Telegraph and Courier version of the story, Jones states: "I walked past a Muslim lady in a veil. Surely the same rules should apply to everyone." (OT: Do any UK publications still use single quotation marks rather than double quotation marks? I'd hate to see the Brits give up that fight, which was, along with driving on the left, one of the few disputes in which they were right. Also oppression of the Irish, they were right about that too.)
So if Tesco allows Muslims to retain their fanciful garb in stores, should it also allow Jedi? I still say the store should be allowed to draw its own distinctions about which persons or religions it respects. However, this being the UK, and Wales being a place so downtrodden that Charles Windsor is its putative prince, I presume a hypothetical woman kicked out of Tesco for wearing a hijab would in fact have ample legal recourse through the vast nomenclature of Commonwealth human rights bureaucracies.
The store's response is witty:
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.
If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they'll miss lots of special offers.
Except for a period of a few weeks in 1977, I've never been a Star Wars fan, but I hope Tesco management can make equally learned and dismissive references to the Bible or the Quran as a defense against other religion-based dress code violations. Because the only difference I can see is that, as Guardian commenter Halo 572 notes, "At least Jedi's [sic] know who actually wrote all the sh*te that they believe in!"