Bay Area Muslim Student Told to Remove Islamic Headscarf
CAIR-SFBA Calls for Public Apology, Offers Diversity Training for School Staff
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
(SANTA CLARA, CA, 6/21/07) - The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic (CAIR-SFBA) today called for a public apology and diversity training following an incident on Tuesday, June 19, in which a high school official demanded that a Muslim student remove her hijab, or Islamic head scarf.
According to the 13-year-old Muslim student, a supervisor in the lunchroom of Seaside High School in Seaside, Calif., demanded that she remove her scarf, despite being told that it was worn for religious reasons. The student, who was visiting the school to take part in a summer algebra program, says she broke down in tears after the supervisor allegedly shouted, “You have to take it off now,” in front of more than 100 other students in the lunchroom.
Despite the shouted demands of the school official, the girl refused to remove her scarf.
CAIR-SFBA contacted the school principal who confirmed that the incident occurred as described. He offered to arrange a face-to-face apology with the supervisor and student but did not agree to a public apology.
“It is a gross violation of authority to demand that a student violate his or her religious principles in order to receive an education,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Safaa Ibrahim. “Because the student was humiliated in public, it is only reasonable to make an apology or statement in public to mitigate the damage caused by the supervisor’s unacceptable actions.”
Ibrahim also asked that the school institute diversity training for all staff and that appropriate measures be taken to ensure that this type of disturbing incident is not repeated.
She said CAIR publishes a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to avoid just such incidents.
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim 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.