Woman forced to take off hijab before entering Pepsi Center

DENVER: An American Muslim woman allegedly subjected to public humiliation by officials at Denver’s Pepsi Heart after she was told to take off her hijab (head covering or scarf).

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According to media reports, the incident happened on Wednesday, November. 13 at 11:30 a.m at Colorado Muslim Society in Denver.

Take that thing off”

Gazella Bensreiti, according to the Colorado chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Colorado), went to the Pepsi Center to watch her daughter perform the National Anthem when an employee allegedly instructed Bensreiti to “take that thing off” in reference to Bensreiti’s hijab — or not be allowed.

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“Gazella asked to be allowed to remove it in private, in front of a woman. 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,” said CAIR in a statement.

Subjected to public humiliation

The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization said that the mother of three, who lives in Aurora even asked the employees to be allowed to remove it in private in the presence of a woman but was denied and was subjected to public humiliation in front of staff, students and other parents.

Statement from Pepsi Center

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, which owns Pepsi Center, issued the following statement about the incident:

“Pepsi Center prides itself on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all patrons regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, disability and sexual orientation.  Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding on November 5 when a security agent didn’t recognize that Ms. Bensreiti was wearing a hijab. A supervisor quickly intervened, and Ms. Bensreiti entered.

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. While the matter is still under review, we are taking steps to modify our screening process and provide additional education for our staff.”

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