US Muslims Complain Over Columbus Police Hijab Ban

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SHAFAQNA - A leading US Muslim advocacy group has filed a complaint over the Columbus Police Division’s refusal to allow women officers to wear hijab, calling the decision a discriminatory one.

“CAIR-Ohio brings this complaint to end the discriminatory ban on the hiring of Muslim women who wear a religious headscarf by Columbus Division of Police,” Romin Iqbal, a Staff Attorney in the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, wrote in a complaint filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and cited in a statement sent to OnIslam.net.

“The ban by Columbus Division of Police on hiring Muslim women who wear their religiously mandated headscarf discriminates against religious Muslim women who want to join the Columbus police force, and is a violation of Chapter 4112 of the Ohio Revised Code under which employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious belief of employees and prospective employees.”

The complaint followed a decision in which the Columbus police department refused to hire Muslim women officers who wear hijab.

CAIR-Ohio filed the complaint after Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman recently told the Columbus Dispatch that he supports the hijab ban.

“When officers go out into the community, they should be identified as Columbus police officers, not Muslim police officers, not Christian police officers, not Jewish police officers, not Hindus, Baptists or anything else,” Coleman told The Columbus Dispatch.

Police Chief Kim Jacobs was quoted warning against hijab-wearing officers “turning anyone off” and stating, “If it’s a head scarf next week, it might be a burqa the next week.”

In March, 2015 a Muslim American woman recruit at the Columbus Police Academy was forced to drop out after that Columbus Police refused to grant her a religious accommodation for her hijab.

The Dispatch wrote a story in April about Ismahan Isse, a Somali-American woman who left the police academy in March because of the head-scarf ban.

Isse has said she would like to return to the academy but her head covering is an important part of her religion and identity.

Though there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to nearly seven million Muslims.

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

 

Sources – OnIslam

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