A Muslim woman has sued the Walt Disney Company for religious discrimination and harassment, after it refused to allow her to wear the hijab in accordance with her strict dress code.
Imane Boudlal worked as a hostess in a Disney cafe for more than two years before she decided to challenge the accepted Disney dress code. She waited until she obtained U.S. citizenship in June of 2010 before requesting permission to wear the hijab.
Denied permission to wear the hijab in her job as a Disney cafe hostess, she began to flaunt the rules by arriving for work in the Islamic headscarf, breaching the Disney dress code on seven occasions.
Disney offered her the opportunity to wear the hijab in the back of the cafe where she would not be seen by customers, or under a hat. Boudlal refused both options, saying "It's unacceptable. They don't want me to look Muslim. They just don't want the head covering to look like a hijab."
The Guardian reported Disney issued a statement saying "We presented Ms Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab. Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work."
In addition to claiming religious discrimination, Boudlal has sued Disney for harassment, claiming she experienced anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slurs from co-workers and supervisors.
The case, due to be heard in a U.S. court, has caused controversy in Saudi Arabia. An editorial in the Saudi Gazette opines that the options Disney offered to Boudlal to accommodate her request to wear to wear the hijab "were degrading, debasing and humiliating." The paper does not pass the same judgement on the forced wearing of the hijab for all women, resident or visitors, to the Kingdom, or the religious discrimination permissible under Saudi Arabian sharia law.
The issue is not even relevant to Saudi, as Boudlal is a Moroccan born naturalized U.S. citizen, but it demonstrates once again the Saudi obsession with the hijab on foreign soil. This was aptly highlighted in the recent case of Saudi female athlete Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkani where Saudi threatened to withdraw from the Olympics if their two female athletes were not allowed to compete wearing a hijab.
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