Reprinted from Hudson-ny.org.
Islamic attire for women—the burqa and hijab—are back in the news, though with a twist, as they cause problems and lawsuits in America, where they are legal. In France, however, they have been banned, and Muslim women are happily complying.
There is an instructive reason for this, but first, the stories from this week.
A Muslim-American woman, Kulsoom Abdullah, is trying to change the rules of competitive weightlifting to accommodate her. The rules require arms and legs to be bare so judges can see when elbows and knees are “locked,” therefore being able to determine if a lift is successful. Most competitors wear a form-fitting body suit with short sleeves and short pants. Abdullah, however, says that “such exposure would violate her deeply held religious beliefs. But rather than giving up on her dreams of competitive weightlifting, she is pressing for a change in the sport’s international rules,” including “with the help of a lawyer, Muslim activists and the U.S. Olympic Committee.”
And she won. The rules have been changed, in the words of the International Weightlifting Federation, to “promote and enable a more inclusive sport environment and break down barriers to participation.”
It was also reported this week that Muslim-American Hani Khan is suing Abercrombie & Fitch, claiming the clothing retailer fired her for refusing to shed the hijab, an experience which in Khan’s words “shook my confidence.” She would be the third Muslim woman to sue Abercrombie for hijab reasons. But Khan is not trying to get her job back; rather, “her suit seeks to force Abercrombie to change its dress code to loosen restrictions on religious clothing… and is seeking back wages and unspecified damages.”
In a statement, Abercrombie said, “We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all individuals regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. … We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation.”
Oddly, Khan’s lawyer asserted that “Abercrombie prides itself on requiring what it calls ‘a natural, classic American style.’ But there is nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion.” Apparently, work dress codes are now tantamount to “discriminating against someone because of their religion.”
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