Nevada Muslims Support Jewish Officer’s Right to Skullcap, Beard


(LAS VEGAS, NV, 9/4/07) - The Nevada chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NV) today offered its support to a Jewish police officer who is being denied the right to wear a religiously-mandated yarmulke (skullcap) and beard.

The nine-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department filed a discrimination lawsuit last week after failing to negotiate a compromise with his superiors.

SEE: Lawsuit: Jewish Detective Sues Police (Review-Journal)

“Police officers, like any other citizens, should have the right to religious freedom,” said CAIR-NV Executive Director Yasser Moten. “We urge Metropolitan Police Department officials to work out a mutually-agreeable compromise on this important issue.”

In 2002, CAIR condemned a decision by Illinois’ Cook County Sheriff’s Department to strip police powers from an Orthodox Jewish deputy after he refused to remove his yarmulke while on duty.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religious beliefs or practices. The act requires employers to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee, unless to do so would create an “undue hardship.”

CAIR has defended the right of Muslim officers to wear Islamic scarves and beards. The Washington-based group publishes a booklet, “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices.”

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, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.