New Jersey: Muslim Woman Told To Remove Niqab In Mall


14 May 2012

By Juan Cole

Wakeelah Salaam had been shopping by herself for less than ten minutes at the Bridegwater Commons Mall when a security guard approached her and told her to remove her traditional Muslim face covering.

"He said, ‘ma'am, I'm telling you, you cannot wear that mask in here. He came as close to me as though he was going to kiss me, and then he made the hand gesture like he was going to lift it up for me," Salaam said.

Salaam was born in the United States, and was raised Muslim. She has always worn a long dress, or hijab, and a headscarf. But when she was in her mid-20s, she decided to start wearing the niqab, or face covering, that shows only her eyes when she's in public.

She's worn the niqab in court, and even to visit a relative in prison, so Salaam says she was shocked when she was approached twice by the same mall security guard Saturday. She eventually felt so uncomfortable that she called police.

"I felt threatened, like I couldn't walk and shop in the mall without this man asking me to take off my niqab," Salaam added.

After speaking with police, Salaam decided to leave Bridgewater Commons, which she had visited before with no problems. After Eyewitness News got involved, an executive with the company that runs Bridgewater Commons' security called Salaam to say he's sorry.

"We sincerely apologize", said Donald Lantz, "Our security guard has received additional training in cultural diversity. We respect her right to dress according to her religious beliefs and she is welcome in our mall anytime."

Salaam says she appreciates the apology, but next time she needs to go shopping, she will probably choose another mall.

American Muslims Working to Protect Equal Rights of Minorities in Middle East

Muslim American's continue with their persistent and consistent efforts at highlighting the critical importance of promoting and protecting "equal rights" for minorities in the Middle East.

Central to the struggles and reforms emerging across the Middle East from the Arab Spring are questions of how to ensure the protection of freedom, tolerance, and economic sustainability for all people, particularly minority groups.

In an effort to develop an international strategy for social stability and economic development in the Middle East, the State of Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UCLA Center for Middle East Development gathered community leaders and activists from across the globe this week in Doha for a conference focusing on enriching the future of the Middle East. The conference was held in conjunction with the 12th Annual Doha Forum.

ISNA Director of Community Outreach Mohamed Elsanousi participated in a workshop focusing on the "Future of Religious Minorities in the Region." Elsanousi's participation in the workshop was a part of ISNA's ongoing work with Muslim leaders worldwide to promote Islamic standards and develop protocols that protect religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities, in Muslim-majority countries.

"In Islam, we are taught that all people are equal and should not be discriminated against in any way based on their religion," stated Elsanousi. "It is our responsibility as Muslims to promote programs and policies that protect freedom of religion for all people in the emerging democracies across the Arab Spring to ensure the repression of the old regimes is never allowed to take root again."

The workshop highlighted examples from Islamic history, such as the covenant of Medina, which thrived under a system of law that guaranteed equal rights for all people in a Muslim majority community.

The workshop also echoed many of the strategies shared by ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and other leaders during last week's ISNA co-sponsored symposium on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Islam.

 

©  EsinIslam.Com

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