TULSA - Claiming that the outfit opposed the bank's policy, a veiled American Muslim woman has been asked to leave a Tulsa bank after refusing to remove her hijab, the policy widely criticized by Tulsa's Muslim and Jewish civil groups.
I think there's a very clear difference between something like a ski mask, and something like a hijab, Jillian Holzbauer with the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, told KJRH-TV.
We understand the security concerns for sure. It being a bank, that's definitely a big concern, Holzbauer added.
Visiting the Tulsa-based Valley National Bank, a veiled Muslim women wished to make processes for her businesses.
Yet, after entering the bank, she was singled out for her hijab, with bank officials telling the woman she would need an escort if she did not want to take off her hijab.
Refusing to remove the Muslim veil, the woman decided not to stay and do business at the bank.
Holzbauer says she later contacted them to file a complaint.
This idea that she had to have an escort with her at all times, that's concerning, because it's something that's not applied equally to all customers, said Holzbauer.
The bank explained that they have a "no hats, no hoods, no sunglasses" policy posted on bank doors.
The bank added it adopted the policy from the Oklahoma Banker's Association to cut down on crime.
This policy of the OBA adopted by Valley Bank is designed to protect both employees and customers from harm from any person entering the bank that cannot be easily identified, Bank CEO Brad Scrivner said.
Later on, the bank said they sent a letter explaining the policy to CAIR.
The CEO even asked for the woman's address so he could apologize for making her feel "unwelcome."
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
The explanation was rejected by CAIR, stressing the difference between hijab and the bank's banned masks.
The Muslim cause was also supported by David Bernstein, a member of the Tulsa Say No to Hate Coalition and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa.
"I assure you, it's to a bank's benefit, to be open to everyone in their community," Bernstein said.
Bernstein urged the bank to change its policy.
"Being different doesn't mean they're wrong, or against us, or we're against them. It just means they're different," he said.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.