February 23rd, 2009 18:47 EST
NC Banks to 'Cordon Off'' MUSLIM WOMEN Customers
In an effort to deter bank robbers, an area credit union will become among the state`s first financial institutions to restrict their customers from wearing hats, hoods or sunglasses.
Officials with the Carolina Federal Credit Union said last week that beginning March 2, it will institute new regulations requiring customers remove head coverings before entering their buildings.
Those who refuse will not be turned away, but won`t be able to conduct business with the regular tellers. Instead, they will be monitored and served at a location near the front of the branch.
This program will provide a safer environment for members and employees, said Donna Beringer, CFCU president. The simple act of removing hats, hoods, and sunglasses in the credit union will not only help deter would-be robbers, it makes it much easier to identify and capture anyone that chooses to perpetrate fraud.
The policy`s concession is aimed at customers who wear religious headgear, such as Jewish men wearing yarmulkes or Muslim women wearing hijabs. But they too would only be helped at the front.
So we will be separate but equal, said Rose Hamid, head of the Muslim Women of the Carolinas. That is absolutely unacceptable. I would find that offensive and I would do everything I could to make sure it does not go through.
Bank robberies are common. And according to experts, they tend to go up during times of economic hardship. Though, oddly, this year bank robberies have dropped.
Hundreds of banks and credit unions across the country have instituted the No hats, no glasses, no hoods policy, including agencies in California,
Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma and Florida.
This month, a Muslim woman was denied service at the Community Bank of the Bay in Oakland, Calif., where officials had recently instituted the policy. The ensuing controversy forced the bank to release an official apology.
We understand what is behind this, said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But this is such a broad and vague policy that it will inevitably lead to problems.
The council, based in Washington, D.C., is the country`s largest Muslim advocacy group. Hooper said officials there have just recently started hearing about the no hats policy. He said it fails to address several issues, such as what to do about cancer victims wearing scarves, nuns wearing habits or blind people wearing glasses.
Will they cordon them all off, he said.