London, May 2 : A television executive has demanded over a million pounds in compensation from the Arabic station al-Jazeera, claiming that she was fired because she was not a Muslim.
Jo Burgin, the former head of planning for the English language service of the news channel, is also claiming sexual discrimination because she was sacked while her husband was kept on in a senior post.
According to The Telegraph, Burgin, 49, claimed that she was dismissed in April 2007 because she was a "white, Christian, British woman".
Jonathan Cohen, her solicitor, told an employment tribunal: "We say that a Muslim or an employee from a predominantly Muslim country would not have been dismissed."
Burgin was based at the channel's offices in Doha, Qatar but is suing it for sex, race and religious discrimination at Central London Employment Tribunal.
Al-Jazeera English has been suffering a recent staffing crisis as scores of journalists have left, said to be unhappy with the working environment.
Burgin's husband, Steve Clark, who was director of news and programmes, did have his contract renewed.
Clark, the driving force behind al-Jazeera English's launch in November 2006, resigned anyway in March this year.
Al-Jazeera claims that it was company policy not to have couples working together.
The channel's five most senior executives flew in from the Middle East to attend the hearing.
The tribunal heard that Burgin is alleging seven separate "acts or series of acts" as well as her dismissal that amounted to discrimination.
It previously ruled that it had no jurisdiction to consider her claim of unfair dismissal.
Al-Jazeera denies all of Burgin's allegations and is vigorously contesting her case.
Story first published: Friday, May 2, 2008, 12:47 [IST]