Denver arena reviewing screening process after Muslim woman told to remove hijab

Denver arena reviewing screening process after Muslim woman told to remove hijab
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Denver’s Pepsi Center is reportedly reviewing its screening process after a Muslim woman was allegedly told to remove her hijab when entering the arena. 

The Colorado chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said Gazella Bensreiti was told to “take that thing off,” referring to her hijab, when she entered the arena to watch her daughter perform the national anthem. 

When she asked to be allowed to remove it in private in front of a woman, Bensreiti was refused the option and “subjected to public humiliation in front of staff, students and other parents,” CAIR said in a statement.

Bensreiti said on Facebook the incident took place on Nov. 5. 

Bensreiti said she told the woman who asked her to take off her hijab that she would not be taking it off due to religious reasons. Bensreiti said that five white men ahead of her had baseball caps on that they were not asked to remove. 

She said the woman who initially told her she had to take the cap off "went into an office and came out and waved to me to go ahead through, without making eye contact or even acknowledging me as a human being, but ushered me like an animal."

"I have never experienced this type of trauma in my entire life. I know my rights as an American citizen. Not only did she traumatize me and my daughter, she infringed upon my civil rights. I have never felt so embarrassed and broken before," Bensreiti wrote. 

Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Pepsi Center, issued a statement saying the matter is under review and the company is taking steps to modify its screening process “and provide additional education for our staff,” according to KDVR, a local Fox affiliate. 

“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,” the arena owners said in the reported statement.

Owners added that they have reached out to 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.”

CAIR is holding a press conference on the incident Wednesday morning at the Colorado Muslim Society in Denver. The group said it is calling on Pepsi Center officials to investigate the incident and change its policy regarding religious attire of event attendees.