When a Headscarf Becomes a Target

At a time of rising anti-Muslim rhetoric and discrimination, communities nationwide are coming together to push back. This is the fifth in a blog series titled "Faith Under Fire," which is meant to highlight this fight for equality and religious freedom.

Libraries and schools are supposed to be inclusive spaces for learning, growing, and tolerance. But two women last week — one in California, one in D.C. — learned these safe spaces do not always live up to their reputation.

On Wednesday, a library officer reportedly asked a woman to remove her hijab at a branch of the D.C. public library. When she refused, and although someone next to her tried to speak up on her behalf, the officer threatened her with handcuffs if she did not leave. So she left.

To their credit, library officials removed the officer from that branch, apologized, and are investigating the incident. But it should never have happened in the first place.

On the same day, 3,000 miles away, a 13-year-old girl met with her school to discuss persistent bullying because of her hijab. The bullying apparently escalated last week when a boy asked the seventh-grader if she was a terrorist, and then pulled at her hijab. While she had refrained from wearing her hijab in previous years to avoid bullying, she decided this year to don it again in a show of pride and self-expression. But the harassment has caused her so much stress that she wants to be homeschooled next year.

Discrimination and harassment based on a person’s religious garb is unacceptable and often illegal. Muslim women do not have to remove their headscarves except under very specific circumstances and should never be targeted for expressing their faith. To make clear their rights in a variety of situations, the ACLU has just released a Know Your Rights guide for women and girls who wear hijab.

As the guide explains, women in public do not have to remove their headscarves, even in many places that typically ask people to remove hats or head coverings. For instance, after denying entrance to a woman wearing a hijab, a bank in Nebraska recently revised its security policy to clarify that religious headwear would be permitted. Under Nebraska law, a bank is considered a place of public accommodation and may not discriminate against customers based on their religious appearance. Employers must also provide a requested accommodation for Muslim women who wear hijab or headscarves unless the accommodation would cause the employer an undue hardship, such as a safety risk. Similarly, the law prohibits public schools and public facilities, such as libraries, from banning hijabs or headscarves if they allow other head coverings like hats or baseball caps. And public schools must take action to stop repeated harassment of students based on their religious garb or faith.

Although the guide is not a substitute for legal advice, we hope it provides a basic understanding of the rights Muslim women and girls have to wear hijab and practice and express their religious identity in a variety of situations.

Unfortunately, the effects of anti-Muslim rhetoric and discrimination are not just limited to those who wear hijab. (Just take a look at our interactive map of anti-mosque incidents nationwide to get a very disturbing picture.) For that reason, we have developed guides for Muslims in many different contexts, from the workplace to interactions with law enforcement. We also have a fact sheet specifically for Muslim women.

It is a sad reality that a girl may be driven away from her school or a woman from her local library because people react so negatively to her faith. But if enough people stand together against discrimination, we can ensure that these spaces remain inclusive for people of every religion.

Read the previous posts in this series:

The Genesis of #HateHurts


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Dr. Lao

Tell me again how they hate us for our freedoms


People who attack us don't hate us for our freedoms. They hate that someone in America can operate a drone that indiscriminately bombs their families into oblivion in Afghanistan, Pakistan or wherever with the push of a button.


My life in Liberal Klans Oregon!!

Arab/Muslim Americans are treated less than animals!

We are being prosecuted in a daily basis! High tech lynching, institutionally racism! Especially for Arab women!!

Oregon former late A.G. Dave Frohnmayer had my SS# blocked & prevented me from getting employed, made me homeless and jobless!

He was the one who started & initiated the fraud of taking over our homes!!

His bank robber Rep. Bob Ackerman hired Scarlet Lee/Barnhart Associated, forged my family’s signature, gave our fully paid Condo to the thief Investor/Realtor Bob Ogle & his mom Karen Ogle ” who was working in the USA Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1997-1999 & administered the power of attorney to have my sister signed it and add her son to the deed,”, without my signature!!

Bob Ackerman had never responded to the Summon from the Court, and the sheriff never served him or arrested him either!!

ThIs is what kind of criminal government we have in Oregon!!

I ran five times for public offices! Voter Fraud & Sedition by Lane County government to protect & cover up for the two criminals Frohnmayer & Ackerman!!

Oregon government is complicit with their crimes!!


Please sign petition.



This should be SHOUTED on EVERY FORM of MEDIA!!!!!


Important info can found here .


Whilst I can certainly agree that the library incident is outrageous I wouldn't say that the bullying at the school and the bank incident qualifies as religious persecution or faith being particularly under fire.

Kids get bullied at schools for a wide range of reasons, sometimes persistent bullying can occur simply because a child is overweight or "ugly". I don't see people writing pieces like this on the rights of "fat people and uglies" everywhere. It seems ridiculous to me that religious people will ask for special help when dealing with school bullying when bullying is usually a lot more on going and traumatic than this example and when non religiously motivated bullying is a lot more common.

This example seems to literally only be coming up in an ACLU article because the writer is religious and religious people seem to be suffering from a persecution complex of late. Even though religious people vastly outnumber non-religious people and there are virtually no non-religious people in high ranking government positions in the US people of faith seemingly can't help but feel like they are being attacked by "evil secularism".

Banks don't want you to wear face coverings or hats in banks because it could impede identification, especially by camera, in case of criminal activity. This seems to be one of those cases where religion wants common sense laws and policies to give way to their personal beliefs. This makes no sense to me. If a bank then needs to give way to the hijab then by the same token it could then be pressured to give special dispensation to the burqa or niqab (complete face and body covering) making it much easier for robbers to simply walk into a bank wearing a burqa and robbing the place. "Why were they let into the bank if they were wearing masks you ask? Because it's not any mask, it's a religious mask."

Where do we draw the line when it comes to the special dispensations that secular governments afford religious beliefs. Seeing as faith, by its very definition, does not require any real world confirmation it seems inevitable to me that we will forever have to defend common sense laws from whatever religious justification someone wants to come up with to break those laws and the scary thing is that sometimes we're going to lose those fights because we keep setting president that will allow this by appealing to "religious freedom".


The bullying incident is religious persecution and faith under fire. It is against the law to discriminate based on religion. This country was founded on religious freedom. As for the bank, people have been robbing banks for years. Allowed them to wear their hibjab is not going to give robbers any new ideas. There's nothing new under the sun. If they thought they could get away with it they would do it. Banks have protection against robbers already. I doubt there will be a rash of burglaries because of burkas. This country was built of freedom. You cant give freedom to Christians then deny it to others. The government is not secular. In God we trust is printed on money.


The hijab, the little hat, covers what the man sees when he has sx with the female, face to face. Covering these provocative sxual reminders means that men can walk freely in Islamic societies, thinking about Islam all day long without sxual distraction; they will remain in stable marriages as they are less tempted to cheat on their families and put their indoctrinated children at risk. Submissive ladies with no personality, wrapped in black tents, are not enticing; they have no life. Real life will always crowd out the false life of any religious memeplex, struggling to maintain itself. This keeps the highly dangerous cognitive malware of Islam alive; destroying the identities and freedoms of women and girls, as well as their ability to think clearly, maintains the memeplex in the memesphere. Females serve as copy machines due to their minds, caretaking responsibilities, and reproductive capacities; if women and girls are not controlled, the religious nonsense from the crazy dark and distant past won't make it into the future and survive. Only the religions that excelled at getting copied are here today; therefore these are the violent, manipulative and discriminatory religions. Search Wikipedia about the battles of Mohammad for more information on how aggressive rape, pedophilia, stealing, and multiple murderous rampages spread Islam from the beginning. The legal and political systems throughout the globe have become co-opted to protect religion itself, rather than those humans who operate as its host.


I really think that you should refer more credible sources than wikipedia.Headscarfs provide women with a sense of security and self confidence that prevent women from being objectified. Islam has equal rights for men and women, and demands that men respect women. Islam gave women voting and property rights 1400 years before the west did.

Sharon Masters

I do wish you would not allow annonymous comments. Commenting is neither mandatory nor necessary, so allowing people to post behind the keyboard allows a lot more BS, discrimination, and adds to the disintegrating public discourse. I do hope you change your posting guidelines to reflect some kind of liability for what someone posts.

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