Human Rights

Banking While Muslim: Hijab-Wearing Woman Forced to Remove Scarf, Gets Kicked out of Omaha Bank

“She was crying and removed it because she was afraid she had done something wrong."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

An Omaha bank is under fire for forcing a Muslim woman to remove her religious head covering and turning her away when she tried to open a bank account, according to KMTV.

The woman, who has not been identified by news reports, went to the Security National Bank branch hoping to open an account but found the doors locked before she could make it to the teller line. A bank employee told her to remove her hijab, or head scarf, and the woman complied, according to KETV.

KMTV reports the bank still wouldn’t let her in.

“She was crying and removed it because she was afraid she had done something wrong,” the woman’s friend, Ferial Pearson, wrote on Facebook. “She called the police and they said the bank had the right to do that for security purposes.”

According to KMTV the bank was robbed at gunpoint in December and the perpetrators wore face coverings. In a statement, a bank representative said “our policy for all walk-in customers is to remove all face, eye and head coverings to allow our employees and security cameras to have a clear view of each person entering the bank. This is done in an effort to keep our employees and customers safe.”

But local Muslims said the bank was being insensitive.

“They have to understand that this is not a normal head cover,” Sarah Ouedrogo, a member of the Islamic Center of Omaha, told KETV. “It’s for a religious purpose, and if she chose that, nobody can tell her to take it off.”

KMTV reports the bank may have even violated a city law which forbids discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation and other factors.

According to to Pearson, the woman has started receiving offensive and threatening messages online as a result of the incident and the publicity it received.

“You are truly a disgusting person for putting such LIES on the internet!!!” one man wrote. “[T]hey had EVERY right to do what they did!! Waste your time some where else you heartless b*tch”

Watch the report, via KMTV, here:

Bethania Palma Markus is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist.

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