23 SEP 2019: A Muslim civil rights advocacy group is demanding changes at Air Canada after a 12-year-old US Squash Team player says she was forced to remove her hijab while boarding at San Francisco International Airport.  Fatima Abdelrahman did not refuse the request, but requested a private area so she could remove her headscarf in the exclusive presence of female Air Canada agents, but reportedly airline employees refused.

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a letter sent Friday that federal and state laws were violated when an Air Canada gate agent demanded that  Abdelrahman remove her religious head covering.

The advocacy group is seeking the airline order cultural competency training for employees and policy changes prohibiting discrimination. It wants monetary damages for emotional distress, a formal written apology, and reprimand of employees involved.

Abdelrahman was travelling Aug. 1 to Toronto with her team for an international tournament and had had no issues with TSA's security screening.

“This experience not only went against Ms. Fatima's reasonable request to be able to adhere to her religious beliefs but also left her feeling angry and humiliated,” wrote Ammad Rafiqi, a civil rights and legal services co-ordinator at the CAIR-SFBA.

The exchange became public when Abdelrahman's older sister complained about the incident on Twitter.

Air Canada did not respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment Friday.

In its letter, CAIR-SFBA says that an Air Canada customer service manager emailed the Abdelrahman family Aug. 19 to say the airline had updated its boarding policies so agents need not remove religious head coverings in order to conduct identity screenings.




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