- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

Poland criticized for silence on graft

WARSAW The Polish government has remained silent in the face of criticism by the European Union executive of its record in fighting corruption, says an international anti-corruption watchdog.
Transparency International said the lack of comment casts doubt on Warsaw's resolve to address the problem as it prepares to join the European Union in 2004.
On Wednesday, the European Commission recommended that Poland, the biggest EU candidate country, be admitted to the bloc in 2004, but warned that corruption there "remains a cause for serious concern."
A series of corruption scandals involving top officials contributed a year ago to the routing of the conservative AWS-Solidarity government. However, the leftist coalition that replaced it is "no better," a Western diplomat said on the condition of anonymity. Corruption is being cited by all political parties as a major issue before Oct. 27 municipal elections.

Court ruling favors fired scarf-wearer
ERFURT, Germany A Muslim shop assistant who was fired for asking to wear a head scarf at work was wrongly dismissed, a court has ruled, arguing that it was part of her right to religious freedom.
The 30-year-old was fired when, nearing the end of a spell of maternity leave in 1999, she announced she wanted to wear a head scarf for religious reasons. Her employers, the only department store in the small town of Schluechtern, said it violated their dress code and might offend their "conservative and rural" customers.
They sacked her despite her 10-year work record at the company. A lower court upheld the firing, saying the Turkish-born woman had known what the rules were. But the federal employment tribunal here ruled that while an employer could impose a dress code, it still had to respect basic rights, such as freedom of religion.
In contrast, a Muslim teacher lost a similar case in July. In that ruling, the courts argued that state schools had to remain free of all "religious" symbols.

Weekly notes
Four persons froze to death on Wednesday and another eight were hospitalized as a cold snap gripped Moscow, emergency officials report, raising to 15 the number killed by the cold this month in the Russian capital. Nighttime temperatures last week sank to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Last winter, more than 400 people died of the cold in Moscow. Greece's Orthodox Church decided last week to stick with tradition, turning down a request by priests who wanted to shed their long beards, black robes and pipe hats, state-run radio reported. Priests supporting the change said they wanted to modernize their image and increase their marriage prospects. About 97 percent of Greece's 11 million native citizens are members of the Orthodox Church, and opponents of the dress code say most women are unwilling to be seen with a man in robes and a long beard.

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