(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/9/11) — A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today welcomed a U.S. Army decision to review a policy of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) that effectively bars participation by Muslim students who wear an Islamic head scarf, or hijab.
Last month, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta after a 14-year-old Muslim student at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., was forced to transfer out of a JROTC class when her commanding officers told her she could not wear hijab while marching in the September homecoming parade.
SEE: JROTC’s Headscarf Rule Keeps Girl from Parade, Spurs Bias Claim (Tennessean)
Video: Tenn. Muslim Student Not Allowed to Wear Hijab in JROTC (CAIR)
After being contacted by the student’s family, CAIR contacted both the school district and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to seek constitutionally-protected religious accommodations for the girl and for future Muslim JROTC participants.
SEE: CAIR Letter to School District
SEE: CAIR Letter to DOD
In a letter sent to CAIR, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Larry Stubblefield wrote:
“I have been asked to provide an interim reply on behalf of the Secretary of Defense to your October 13, 2011 letter concerning Miss Demin Zawity’s request to wear a religious head covering (hijab) while participating in an Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) event at Ravenwood High School.
“Based on your concerns, the Army is reviewing its policies related to religious accommodation as they apply to JROTC, and we will provide you the results of that review upon completion. Please be assured, that it is not the intent of the JROTC policy to discriminate against any individual or religion.”
“We welcome the Army’s decision to review its policy that effectively bars Muslim students who are seeking to become better citizens and to acquire leadership skills from participating in JROTC,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper said CAIR offers a booklet, called “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: email@example.com