NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Muslim housewife says her civil rights were violated by a security guard who she said forced her to leave a suburban shopping mall when she refused to remove her religious head scarf.
Muntaha Sarsour, 54, and her daughter-in-law, Sajedeh Judeh, 23, had just bought Chick-Fil-A takeout at the mall food court when an Oakwood Shopping Center security guard allegedly stopped Sarsour and told her to remove her head scarf.
"He told her she had two options: Either she take off her head scarf or leave the mall," said Judeh, speaking on behalf of her mother-in-law, who does not speak English well.
Judeh said she then confronted the guard and told him that a Muslim in a head scarf "shouldn't be new to you."
When the guard did not answer, Judeh said, "I then told him that was the most ignorant thing I had heard," and he said, "I was acting ignorant."
The mall's senior general manager, Lynn Walters, said steps are being made to make sure "this type of occurrence never happens again."
"That action goes against everything we believe in and who we are," Walters said. The mall is run by General Growth Properties Inc., one of the nation's largest shopping mall developers.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group in Washington, has asked the FBI and Louisiana officials to investigate the Feb. 22 incident.
The FBI is looking into the case, said FBI spokeswoman Sheila Thorne.