(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/3/2009) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that Virginia-based Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) will remind employees that the bank’s “no hats, hoods and sunglasses” policy does not prohibit Muslim customers or staff from wearing religiously-mandated head scarves, or hijabs.
The bank’s statement came after a Muslim NFCU customer was denied service Saturday at a branch in San Diego, Calif., despite telling bank officials that she wears her head scarf for religious reasons.
SEE: Woman Claims Bank Singled Her Out Over Head Scarf
CAIR yesterday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the incident.
SEE: Calif. Muslim Denied Service at Bank Over Hijab
In a phone call today to CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, a senior NFCU official said the bank will “revisit the policy to make sure that it does not interfere with religious rights.” The NFCU official said that it was “inappropriate” that the Muslim customer was not served and that the bank is taking steps, including re-training of staff, to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. He said the Muslim customer will be offered a personal apology.
In a statement issued today, NFCU said: “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. Navy Federal 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 will make sure it’s thoroughly understood to all employees.”
“We appreciate the bank’s willingness to acknowledge the religious rights of customers, but the existing policy is far too vague and will inevitably lead to a reoccurrence of such discriminatory incidents,” said Hooper.
He added that CAIR has offered to work with NFCU in shaping a new policy that maintains security while taking into account attire worn for religious or medical reasons.
Hooper also suggested that the banking industry needs to address the issue of religious attire after a second Muslim bank customer in California reported being denied service because she wears hijab. That customer says she was denied service by the Community Bank of the Bay in Oakland, Calif.
“Given the second report of a Muslim customer being denied financial services because of religious attire, we believe this is an issue of inclusion and tolerance that should be addressed by the banking industry,” said Hooper.
SEE: Bankers Association Wants ‘No Hats, No Hoods, No Sunglasses’ Policy
SEE ALSO: ‘Hijab for a Day’ a Thought-Provoking Experience
CAIR offers a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
SEE: An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group has 35 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.
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CONTACT: CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, 619-913-0719 or 858-278-4547, E-mail email@example.com; CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area, 408-646-2773; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202 488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org