On June 13, a supervisor from Seaside High School in Seaside demanded that a 13-year-old Muslim student remove her hijab, or head scarf.

Hesitantly, the Muslim girl explained that it is not a fashion accessory, but a religious covering that she is mandated to wear.

The student was visiting the school to take part in algebra classes in the lunchroom. She broke down in tears when the teacher angrily shouted, “You have to take it off now,” in front of 100 other students in the lunchroom.

Despite repeated explanations from the student, the teacher refused to listen to her.

To avoid unpleasant recurrences, the Council for American Islamic Relations was contacted and school authorities issued an apology to the student and her parents.

An unpleasant situation came to an end when the school agreed to participate in CAIR’s diversity training program.

A hijab has been worn by some Muslim women for the last 1,425 years. In some countries, it is worn much more than in others.

Head covering has been a part of religious culture all over the world – both for men and women – as a sign of modesty.

I do not blame the teacher as much because there is an anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic fervor that has been brought to new heights after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A few terrorists who did the horrible crime are dead and gone, but there is a collective guilt placed on all American Muslim citizens through the media and the movies.

Such kind of inflammation goes against the very grain of what this country stands for. Racism and religious intolerance are not what this country is all about. It is only a matter of time when good people will stand up and say enough is enough. Each person is responsible for their own acts.

Iftekhar Hai is the president of the United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance.


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