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CAIR: Muslim Asked to Remove Hijab on British Airways Flight

CAIR seeks investigation of incident, clarification of airline policy

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/14/06) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on British Airways to clarify its policy on passengers wearing religiously-mandated attire after a Muslim woman traveling to the United States reported that she was asked to remove her Islamic headscarf, or hijab, during the flight.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Muslim passenger, who lives in the United Kingdom, reported that a British Airways employee asked her to remove her scarf before boarding a flight from Heathrow to Philadelphia on November 24.

According to the passenger, the British Airways employee said that permission to wear an Islamic headscarf on the plane was “at the discretion of the pilot.” The employee allegedly cited an incident last June in which Muslim women wearing headscarves were taken off a flight from Egypt to Russia after the pilot of the aircraft said their appearance was cause for concern. (The Independent, 8/22/06)

Because of the British Airways employee’s request, the Muslim passenger pulled her headscarf down around her shoulders for the duration of the flight.

In a letter to British Airways, CAIR Civil Rights Manager Khadija Athman wrote: “We hope this unfortunate incident was the result of an individual employee’s prejudice or misinformation about actual British Airways policy on the wearing of religiously-mandated attire on passenger flights.”

Athman requested a clarification of British Airways policy on the issue of passengers’ religious rights.

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 32 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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail:


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