Dec 9 2009
CAIR-Chicago Asks Citibank to Apologize for Hijab Incident. Muslim customer allegedly harassed by bank guard because of Islamic scarf.
(CHICAGO, IL, 12/8/09) — The Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today called on Citibank to apologize to a Muslim woman who was allegedly verbally abused by a security guard at a Gresham, Ill., branch because she wears a religious head scarf, or hijab.
According to the Muslim woman, the guard said it was against Citibank’s policy for customers to transact business wearing head coverings. While another Citibank employee did allow the woman to complete her business, that employee insisted on personally escorting her to the counter and watched over her shoulder as she conducted her transactions.
The guard also reportedly objected to the woman receiving service because it would encourage more of “them” to come into the bank. Throughout the process, which the Muslim customer described as “humiliating,” the guard allegedly made anti-Muslim remarks.
CAIR-Chicago is calling for the apology, a review of Citibank policies related to religious head coverings and for diversity training of bank staff.
“Denying someone the right to enjoy equal treatment in places of public accommodation is illegal and violates our most deeply held values of fairness and respect for others,” said Kevin Vodak, staff attorney at CAIR-Chicago.
“It appears that this security guard was purposefully trying to deter Muslims from patronizing the bank by harassing them. If this is the case, the bank needs to make sure this kind of discriminatory behavior is addressed,” said Christina Abraham, civil rights director at CAIR-Chicago. “It’s illegal and it’s bad business.”
CAIR helped resolve a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim customers wearing hijab have been harassed or denied service because of “no hats” policies being implemented in banks nationwide.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization offers a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. CAIR CHICAGO