A Muslim woman in Denver says that she went to an NBA game to see her daughter sing the national anthem, but was told to that she would have to remove her hijab in order to watch the performance.
According to Gazella Bensreiti, 36, she arrived at the Nuggets game against the Miami Heat last Tuesday, with her 8-year-old daughter. However, in a Facebook post written after the incident, Bensreiti claims that when she arrived at the “will call” window, a female employee told her that she would have to remove her hijab.
“Take that thing off,” the woman reportedly said. After Bensreiti refused to remove her hijab, citing its religious significance, the woman reportedly said, “I don’t care, you can’t come in with it on.”
Bensreiti says she offered to take the hijab off in private, but that offer was refused. The employee eventually gave Bensreiti a ticket after a conversation with her supervisor.
“I have never experienced this type of trauma in my entire life,” Bensreiti wrote. “I know my rights as an American citizen. Not only did she traumatize me and my daughter, she infringed upon my civil rights. I have never felt so embarrassed and broken before.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement on the incident.
“She was refused and subsequently subjected to public humiliation in front of staff, students and other parents, until her daughter became distraught, believing her mom would not be allowed in to see her perform,” the statement read.
“It’s unfortunately all too common for Muslim women to be harassed, excluded or discriminated against because of their hijabs,” Senior Litigation Attorney Gadier Abbas told the Denver Post.
According to the Nuggets parent company, the incident was the result of a misunderstanding.
“We have reached out to Ms. Bensreiti and look forward to engaging in honest discourse that leads to greater awareness and an opportunity to further celebrate the diversity that makes Denver such a special place,” Kroenke Sports & Entertainment told the Denver Post.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn