The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it is considering “legal options” against The Citadel after the military school rejected a request by a prospective Muslim student to wear a hijab with her uniform.
CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, and a designated terror organization in the United Arab Emirates. William Burgess, CAIR senior staff attorney, released the following statement about The Citadel’s decision:
The Citadel violated the student’s right to a religious accommodation under the First Amendment and the South Carolina Religious Freedom Act, which makes it illegal for a state institution to place a burden on a person’s ability to practice his or her faith without the most compelling justification.
We believe the desire to maintain an outdated ‘tradition,’ which was the same argument used to initially deny admittance to African-Americans and women, does not justify violating a student’s constitutional rights. Our nation’s military currently accommodates religious attire in the form of headscarves, beards and turbans. The Citadel should offer the same accommodations.
Family spokesman of the prospective female student Ibrahim Hooper, who is also with CAIR, said the student was disappointed and cried when she received the news that she would not be able to wear the hijab, reports the Associated Press. Hooper added that the family is considering legal options to challenge The Citadel’s decision because “it’s the same issue faced by African-Americans and women in this situation.”
The student will not attend the school unless the uniform policy is changed, Hooper said, adding that she told the commandant that The Citadel was asking her to choose between her faith and the school.
“We view it as a continuation of the civil rights movement,” Hooper said, adding that The Citadel has no cause to continue their tradition of uniforms since the American military now accommodates a variety of religious traditions with regard to uniforms.
“We defend the right of American Muslims to practice their faiths while participating in all levels of society,” Hooper said.
“Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model,” Citadel president retired Lt. Gen. John Rosa said in a statement. “The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college.”
“This process reflects an initial relinquishing of self during which cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit,” he added.
Rosa said he hopes the student will still attend the South Carolina military college in the fall. He said The Citadel will continue to provide for the spiritual needs of cadets when it can in other ways.