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Muslim woman accuses CU over no-hats policy
SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON (2/4/09)--The no hats, no hoods policy popular among some credit unions and banks trying to prevent robberies is being criticized by a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group after a woman says she was denied service for wearing an Islamic scarf. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether a Mission, Calif., branch of Vienna, Va.-based Navy FCU violated the Muslim woman's civil rights. The woman, Amal Hersi, told local media she was standing in line when an employee approached her and told her to follow her ( Feb. 2). Hersi said she felt singled out and when she explained the scarf was mandated by her religion, she was still asked to remove it. Navy Federal said it is trying to contact her to apologize. "Navy Federal values and respects all its members. Working with the law enforcement community, we have recently implemented a policy to make sure we can positively identify everyone we serve in our many branches," the credit union said in a statement. It "weighed very carefully the need to accommodate religious and cultural customs, as well as medical conditions. Our policy does not prohibit nor discourage the use of headscarves, and we will make sure it's thoroughly understood to all employees," the credit union said. "We have taken immediate action to re-emphasize to all Navy FCU employees the need to exercise good judgment and sensitivity in implementing this new policy," it continued. The credit union said it "is a diverse organization with branches, members and employees around the U.S. and the world. We are in the process of contacting Ms. Amal Hersi to apologize for the recent incident. We will assure her it was a mistake and that we value her membership…We regret that this occurred, and we have taken immediate action to ensure that all…employees understand and follow the Safety and Security Guidelines with sensitivity and care." CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida called the no hats policy unconstitutional. Under the policy, he said, "no Muslim woman wearing a head scarf, no Sikh man wearing a turban, no Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, no Catholic nun wearing a habit, no cancer survivor wearing a scarf, no Amish woman wearing a bonnet, and no blind person wearing sunglasses may enter a Navy Federal CU branch nationwide." He said CAIR offers a booklet, "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. For more information, use the link.
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