Woman in headscarf pulled out of line

March 10, 2009 at 12:10 AM
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CALIFORNIA, Md., March 10 (UPI) -- Officials at a Maryland credit union say a Muslim woman was pulled out of line and served in a backroom because her headscarf violated bank policy banning hats.

Kenza Shelby, who says she wears the headscarf for religious reasons, told The Washington Post she was asked to get out of line Saturday and told she could be helped in a backroom at Navy Federal Credit Union in California, Md., a suburb of Washington.

Shelby, who said she has been a customer at Navy Federal for more than 10 years, said she was first pulled out of line last month, and when it happened again Saturday she told credit union employees: "No. I want to be served like everybody else."

Shelby, who operates a daycare center in her home, said she left the credit union and contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Post CAIR is concerned Shelby's experience "may be the tip of the iceberg."

"There's got to be a way to work it out so that this security concern does not lead to violations of constitutional rights," Cooper said.

Navy Federal Senior Vice President for Security Tom Lyons told the Post he could not discuss the specific case but he said the institution's ban on hats, hoods and sunglasses, implemented in December, is a response to an increase in robberies in 2008.

"We want to be able to clearly identify who you are and make sure the transaction is safe," Lyons said. "This is a policy that applies to everybody in the branch. She wasn't singled out. … We tried to accommodate her and help her with her transaction and move on."

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