A Muslim woman says she was unfairly singled out of a bank branch for ‘wearing a hijab’ – with staff threatening to call police if she didn’t ‘remove her hood’.
The unsettling incident occurred at a branch of Sound Credit Union in the US on Friday – when the woman claims the staff refused to serve her when she went in to pay a bill.
Jamela Mohamed, an American and a member of the credit union, recorded part of the incident on her mobile phone, claiming it shows blatant ‘ discrimination ‘.
A sign inside the credit union says hats, hoods, and sunglasses are not allowed. To adhere to the policy, Mohamed went to her car to grab her hijab. Muslims observe Jummah every Friday, and as Mohamed told Komo News: “Since Ramadan is coming up, I make sure I wear my scarf.”
In the footage a staff ‘supervisor’ can clearly be seen shouting over her – saying that she is going to call the police unless she removes the ‘hood’ even though Ms Mohamed’s face is clearly visible.
“If you don’t take your hood off, I’m calling 911,” she shouts.
The staff member can be seen counting to three fast – and slamming the palm of her hand down on side of the cashier stalls – before picking up a phone.
As Mohamed was waiting to be served, she noticed two men being serviced with baseball hats. Mohamed asked: “Why am I witnessing a man being serviced with a hat on and I’m being told to take off my hood?”
That’s when Mohamed started recording…
I went into Sound Credit Union in Kent, Wa to pay my bill as normal. The video above will show the discrimination that I faced today. I am a black Muslim woman and was observing Jummah, so I had my hood on. The teller asks me to “take off my hood”. In order to adhere to their policy, I ran outside to get my hijab. When I came back, two men before me were served with no issues, but both were wearing hats. Then I confronted the teller and he told me “it should be no issue, let me get my supervisor for permission,”. Instead of seeking a resolution, she chose to do this…watch the video. I never want this to happen to anybody and NOBODY should ever be treated this way. Thank you. Sound Credit Union KIRO 7 News Komo 4 TV The Seattle Times Kent ReporterACLU Nationwide CAIR-Washington State Seattle King County NAACP
Posted by Jamela Mohamed on Friday, May 5, 2017
Ms Mohamed appears to react calmly and quietly in comparison with the staff member shouting at her and not answering her questions.
Mohamed stated that she has no issue with the rule, but believes that it needs to be enforced on everyone, which it wasn’t in this case.
Ms. Mohamed broke down in tears when she made it back to her car – with the camera still rolling – visibly upset by the distressing events which had just unfolded.
She is heard saying: “I feel so embarrassed right now.”
But the incident at the Kent branch in Washington didn’t end there.
Footage shows she was followed out of the branch by the member of staff where the argument continued in the parking lot.
In the car park she can be heard shouting to the female staff member: “Ma’am, am I endangering your safety?”
The reply from the supervisor is inaudible.
The footage shows how Ms. Mohamed captured the image of a sign asking customers to remove hats, hoods and sunglasses ‘for their safety’.
She also captured images of several men who she claims were not asked to remove their hats.
The video has received more than 708,000 views on Facebook – and more than 7,000 ‘likes’.
Ms Mohamed and her attorney Thaddeus Martin later claimed that their issue was not with the rule asking customers to remove the garments – but the fact that she appeared to be treated unequally with other customers.
Mr Martin told KomoNews.com : “She is seen as a threat and she’s actually treated as a threat.”
MirrorOnline has contacted Sound Credit Union for comment.
Sound Credit Union has since issued its “deepest apology” for the way Ms Mohamed was treated – and says it is “actively investigating” after she posted the footage online.
“It is clear our training needs to include more empathy and sensitivity to all cultures, because as a credit union, we believe in equal treatment of all people.”
But many customers are saying that apology wasn’t good enough. They’ve been leaving blistering reviews on Sound Credit Union’s Facebook page since the incident became public.
Several reviewers are calling for the manager to be fired and are threatening to close their accounts unless that happens. But for now, Sound Credit Union is still reviewing the situation.