CAIR Asks NYPD to Reinstate Jewish Recruit Dropped Over Beard
(NEW YORK, NY, 6/10/12)—The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to reinstate Fishel Litzman, a Jewish recruit kicked out of the police academy allegedly for refusing to trim his beard, which he wears for religious reasons.
NYPD rules prohibiting beards make an exception for those kept for religious reasons, but the exception allows only one millimeter of growth.
“We urge the NYPD to reinstate Mr. Litzman and to work out a reasonable compromise that protects his religious rights and those of other officers while maintaining good order and discipline in the ranks,” said CAIR-NY Civil Rights Manager Cyrus McGoldrick.
He said CAIR-NY is dealing with a similar case involving a Muslim NYPD officer facing disciplinary action because of his beard. (Muslim men wear beards for religious reasons.)
McGoldrick also noted that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently changed a controversial uniform policy that required employees who wear religious head coverings such as scarves (hijab) or turbans to either affix them with a company logo or work in positions that did not require interaction with the public.
In 1999, a Supreme Court action left intact a lower court ruling supporting the right of Muslim police officers to wear beards. The earlier ruling, issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, said the Newark (N.J.) Police Department’s no-beard policy was discriminatory because it allowed medical but not religious exemptions. (Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark)
CAIR publishes a booklet, titled “A Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the Muslim Community,” which outlines basic information about Islamic beliefs that are relevant to law enforcement agencies.
It also covers issues such as the rights of Muslim law enforcement officers, religiously-sensitive techniques for body searches, etiquette for entering Muslim homes, and advice on outreach to the Islamic community.