– It’s the latest case of blatant islamophobia.
A Muslim woman from Colorado in the United United States of America was told by security staff to remove her hijab before stepping into Denver’s Pepsi Center, the Denver Post reported.
Gazella Bensreiti went to the stadium on November 5 to see her daughter’s elementary school choir perform the National Anthem before a game between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat, according to the local newspaper.
That’s when a Pepsi Center employee at will-call allegedly told her to “take that thing off” or else she couldn’t come inside.
Bensreiti said her request was denied after reportedly asking to be taken to a private area so a woman could inspect underneath her hijab.
Parents, staff and students, including her daughter, were witnesses to the incident.
After Bensreiti’s daughter expressed sadness about the issue, she was allowed inside with her hijab on her head with the approval of a supervisor.
Bensreiti is being represented by Gadeir Abbas, a senior litigation attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as well as other CAIR legal experts.
“It’s unfortunately all too common for Muslim women to be harassed, excluded or discriminated against because of their hijabs,” Abbas said.
Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the arena and the city’s professional basketball team, released a statement.
A spokeswoman told the Denver Post that the security guard didn’t initially recognise that Bensreiti was wearing a hijab.
“While the matter is still under review, we are taking steps to modify our screening process and provide additional education for our staff,” the statement read.
“We have reached out to Ms. Bensreiti and look forward to engaging in honest discourse that leads to greater awareness and an opportunity to further celebrate the diversity that makes Denver such a special place.”
Argus, a private company, runs the security program on behalf of Kroenke.
Dave Brower, the president and chief executive of Argus Event Staffing, defended the employee’s actions in an email Thursday, The New York Times reported.
“Our employee is a 71-year-old African-American woman who has worked for Argus for 14 years and until this incident, she had not been accused of discrimination or profiling,” Brower said. “The patron repeatedly pointed to our employee and another Argus colleague while calling them racists. Argus stands behind our employee.”
The Pepsi Center’s venue guide online does not appear to specify clothing restrictions, per the New York Times. The guide states that everyone must pass through a metal detector but that they can request “alternative accommodations for screening.”
Bensreiti wrote in a Facebook post, “I told her that I would not take it off due to religious reasons.”
In several other reported instances, Muslim women have been forced to remove their hijab.
In one instance, an Ohio high school student was disqualified for wearing a hijab during a cross-country race. After being forced to do so, she said her “heart dropped.”
In another case, a Muslim college student said she was suspended from Murfreesboro’s Georgia Career Institute for wearing her hijab to class. She later filed a lawsuit.
Source: Denver Post