CAIR: Bank Says 'No Hats' Policy Does Not Prohibit Hijab

Tue Feb 3, 2009 4:35pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Muslim group asks banking industry to address issue after second denial of
service to Muslim customer reported in California

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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

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

"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,2933,324197,00.html

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

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

CONTACT: CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director Edgar Hopida, 619-913-0719
or 858-278-4547, E-mail ; CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area,
408-646-2773; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202
488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:

SOURCE  Council on American-Islamic Relations

Edgar Hopida, CAIR-San Diego Public Relations Director, +1-619-913-0719,
858-278-4547,, CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area, +1-408-646-2773,
or Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR National Communications Director, +1-202-488-8787,
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