Michigan Muslim Shunned for Wearing Hijab

SHAFAQNA - In yet another Islamophobic incident, a Muslim woman has been denied service in a Michigan store after she refused to take off her Islamic hijab, a head cover worn by many Muslim women.

“This is really about ignorance, it’s really about fossilized policies and people being stubborn and not coming up to the modern time,” Dawud Walid, of the Council on American Islamic Relations, told WJBK on Wednesday, August 19.

Walid added that women are permitted to wear headscarves to do everything from go to the bank to take driver’s license photos.

The problem erupted when Nadia Kamal said she was denied service by the clerk at Advance America Cash Advance in the Detroit suburb of Westland on Wednesday.

“The lady she told them just take it off a little bit and put it back,” her husband, Fatah Kamal, said. “She said, ‘I can’t, I’m in a public place I cannot do that.'”

Nadia feels comfortable removing her hijab only in the presence of “very close family,” her husband said.

The Muslim woman reported facing ill treatment when she was denied services and kicked out of the cash advance provider’s office.

Clarifying that it is company policy for all customers to remove any hoods, hats, sunglasses and other head coverings as part of its safety policy, a company statement stipulated that, “It is an important security measure designed to ensure that anyone entering our centers can be easily identified.

“It is an important security measure designed to ensure that anyone entering our centers can be easily identified,” the company said in a statement.

“Advance America [Cash Advance] respects all religious beliefs and serves all customers with dignity and respect.”

Kamal is just one of a number of Muslim women suing the company for discrimination, the station reported.

Muslim women say they should be allowed to keep them on noting that the Secretary of State allows Muslim women to have on hijab for their drivers’ license photos.

Several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Muslim women in Michigan who said they were told by police officers to remove their hijab, which violated their religious beliefs.

In January, a lawsuit was filed by Canton attorney Nabih Ayad on behalf of a Muslim woman from Dearborn Heights, Malak Kazan, against Dearborn Heights police, accusing their officers of making her remove her headscarf to take her booking photo, which requires no hats or head coverings.

“To have her hair and neck uncovered in public,” the lawsuit said, is a “deeply humiliating, violating, and defiling experience.”

“These are constitutional violations,” said Canton attorney Nabih Ayad, who has handled several hijab cases in recent years. “You have to respect the right to wear religious attire.”

In June 2014 a similar incident involving Dearborn Heights resident, Raghdaa Ali, occurred at the Advance America Cash Advance store in Inkster, where a sign outside reads: “Please Remove hat and Sunglasses” in addition to requiring that customers to be buzzed in to enter while temporarily removing their head coverings for security reasons.

Ali later filed a lawsuit illustrating growing tensions as Muslim women fight for the right to wear hijab in public places; an increasingly rising conflict in recent years as a religious minority seeks acceptance of its faith.

In addition to Ali’s lawsuit, there have been several other cases involving Muslim women in metro Detroit and across the U.S., which civil rights advocates say shows a pattern of misunderstanding about hijab.

On June 29, Maha Aldhalimi sued the city of Dearborn, saying their officers forced her to take off her hijab for a booking photo after arresting her on parking violations.

In a ruling dated June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim-American woman who was denied employment at an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store because the headscarf she wore violated the retailer’s “look policy.”

The prevailing argument was that the retailer may have violated workplace discrimination law when it turned down the Muslim job applicant because she wore a hijab. This ruling supports the rights of Americans to religious accommodation.

Abercrombie noted in a statement appearing in the Huffington Post, that the Supreme Court did not determine Elauf had been discriminated against, only that she is permitted pursue her claim in court.

The ruling sends Elauf’s case back to the lower court for further consideration.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

The United States is home to between 7-8 million Muslims.

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