A Muslim woman going to see her daughter sing the national anthem at a Denver Nuggets game was told to remove her hijab if she wanted to watch the performance, a civil rights group claims.
Gazella Bensreiti — a mother of three from Aurora, Colorado — was told to “take that thing off” in reference to the traditional headscarf, or be denied entry into Denver’s Pepsi Center, where she was set to watch her daughter perform with a choir, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The civil rights group’s Colorado chapter is expected to hold a news conference on Wednesday to call for policy changes after the incident that allegedly took place at the arena’s will-call window.
Bensreiti then asked to be allowed to remove her religious headcover in private, but that request was denied, the group claims.
“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,” a news release reads.
The incident occurred on Nov. 5 before the Nuggets took on the Miami Heat, an attorney for the advocacy group told the Denver Post.
“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 newspaper.
Bensreiti was ultimately allowed to keep the hijab on and enter the game, Abbas said.
The incident was a misunderstanding on behalf of a security agent that was “quickly” corrected by a supervisor, according to a statement issued by the Nuggets’ parent company.
“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.
The arena’s screening process will also be modified and additional training will be given to staff, Kroenke officials said.
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