Oakland Bank Apologizes to Muslim Woman It Denied Service

February 5, 2009

Author: Matt O'Brien

Source: Contra Costa Times


A bank has apologized to a Muslim woman denied service in December because she was wearing a hijab, but has also defended its decision.

When Safa Magid went to Community Bank of the Bay to make a deposit, a teller refused to serve her, explaining that the bank's policy prohibiting people from wearing hats included head scarves.

"The woman asked if I could take off my scarf," Magid said Thursday. "And I said, 'No, I'm not going to take off my scarf.' Then, she said she couldn't serve me because I'm wearing a scarf."

Magid then tried to explain that she wore the scarf for religious reasons, but that a second bank employee confirmed the "no hat" ban included Magid's scarf.

Magid, who had visited the Broadway bank previously without incident, closed her account. She later sought help from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"(The bank) immediately recognized that there was an error, but I think it points to a deeper problem," said Agnes Chong, a Bay Area coordinator for the civil rights organization. The council has called attention to similar bank practices across the country.