Muslim Woman Denied Entry To Nebraska Bank Because Of Her Headscarf

| by Karin Sun
woman wearing hijabwoman wearing hijab

A Muslim woman is alleging religious discrimination after she was reportedly denied entry into a Nebraska bank because of her headscarf.

The woman, who was not identified, went to open an account at Security National Bank in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 16. While she took a moment to call her husband in the breezeway near the entrance to the bank, a staff member reportedly locked her out, KMTV reports.

The woman said she was told she could not enter because she was wearing a hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women. After explaining several times to staff that the hijab was part of her religious attire, the woman removed it but was still denied entry.

A friend of the woman, Ferial Pearson, described the incident in a message posted to Facebook. Pearson explained that the woman called police to assist her after being denied entry to the bank, but officers told her that the bank had the right to lock her out and instructed her to open her account at the bank's drive-thru instead. 

"It doesn't feel right," the post read.

The Feb. 16 post was shared 350 times in three days.

National Security Bank released this statement about the incident, according to KETV:

Security National Bank respects everyone in our community. The incident that occurred yesterday at our 78th & Cass location was in no way intended to be discriminatory.  If it caused offense in any way, we are truly sorry.

For security reasons, 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. We routinely ask individuals to remove their hats, scarves and sunglasses prior to entering. This is done in an effort to keep our customers and employees safe.

The bank reportedly strengthened its security procedures after being robbed at gunpoint in December 2015 by two individuals who covered their faces.

Sarah Ouedrogo and Bre Sheikh, members of the Islamic Center in Omaha and acquaintances of the woman, spoke out about the incident.

"It would just be very humiliating and embarrassing," Sheikh told KETV.

"They have to understand that this is not a normal headcover," Ouedrogo added. "It's for a religious purpose, and if she chose that, nobody can tell her to take it off."

According to Omaha's "Place of Public Accommodation" ordinance, any business offering services to the public cannot discriminate against anyone because of their religion, according to KMTV.

Omaha police said they are not currently investigating whether the bank violated city law since a formal complaint has not been filed over the incident. 

Sources: KETV, KMTVFerial Pearson/Facebook / Photo Credit: Ferial Pearson/Facebook, KMTV

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