How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

'Regulating freedom of choice:' Readers react to France's burqa ban

Art by Khalid Albaih/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Q&A post last week that highlighted the reactions of three prominent Muslim women in California to a controversial French law banning face-covering veils, enacted last week, has generated a lively debate in the comments section.

While the arguments have been heated, and the opinions not all politically correct, it has been an interesting discussion in that it displays how there are different ways of defining freedom.

The post featured interviews with Hadeer Soliman, vice president of the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine; Edina Lekovic, director of policy and programming for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles; and Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The interviews were conducted by KPCC intern Yasmin Nouh, who herself is Muslim and wears hijab, the traditional head scarf.

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What we talk about when we talk about profiling people in airports

Photo by amrufm/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A cheery group of travelers, the women in Muslim head scarves, or hijab, walks through an airport. April, 2009

Most of the reader comments that have flooded news sites since NPR's dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams last week, following a remark he made about Muslims during an appearance on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor," have been either about his comment or the network's decision to fire him.

But some people have taken Williams' remark - about becoming nervous when he got on a plane and saw people in "Muslim garb" - and provided their own opinions about the profiling of Muslims and others in airports. Some have posted comments about being profiled, others about doing the profiling. Here are a few excerpts from the past few days.

On the KPCC website under an audio clip from Friday's AirTalk program with Larry Mantle, which aired a segment Friday on the Williams incident, "Hargobind" posted:

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Interesting take on Disney workers' hijab and the mainstreaming of Muslim culture

Photo courtesy of CAIR-LA

Intern Noor Abdallah in modified Disney uniform

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote about Noor Abdallah and Imane Boudial, the two Muslim women working at the Disneyland resort in Anaheim who were pressuring their employer for the right to wear hijab at work.

In his column yesterday, the Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik wrote about the issue again with some interesting perspective on Disney: Given the company's massive influence on entertainment and mainstream culture in general, could its actions help pave the way toward the mainstreaming of Muslim culture and standards of dress?

As an example of Disney's cultural evolution, Hiltzik cited in his column Disneyland's one-time ban on same-sex dancing, which in 1984 led to the eviction of two gay men from the park. The company lifted the ban the next year following a court challenge.

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Q&A: Disney intern Noor Abdallah on hijab and work

Photo courtesy of CAIR-LA

Noor Abdallah in her Disney uniform

The Muslim intern who fought Disney over her hijab, and won, is a second-generation University of Illinois senior, a psychology major and a native of the Chicago suburbs who “grew up on Disney movies.”

Noor Abdallah, 22, took the company to task this summer after arriving in Anaheim to begin an internship as a vacation planner. Upon arriving, she was informed that because she wears the traditional Islamic head scarf, known as hijab, she must take a job with less guest interaction. She was offered a stockroom job while a customized uniform was made, a wait that would take about five months.

Abdallah sought assistance from the Council on American-Islamic Relations after learning about Iman Boudial, a Moroccan immigrant and Disney worker who filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company last month on similar grounds. Disney relented, allowing Abdallah to work in the vacation planner job. She has been working in hijab since earlier this month, wearing a blue head scarf with a beret-style hat.

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A Disney intern's uniform, with hijab

Photo courtesy of CAIR-LA

Noor Abdallah in her Disney uniform

A Disney intern who did battle with the company over her traditional Islamic religious head scarf, known as hijab, is at work in the job she was hired to do, and in a uniform adapted for her.

Noor Abdallah, 22, sought legal help after arriving from Illinois to begin work at the Anaheim resort. She had interviewed by phone for an internship as a Disney vacation planner, but upon arriving in California, she was informed that because of her hijab, she would instead have to take a stockroom job while a customized uniform was made.

Upon learning that she would have to wait five months for a custom uniform - the length of her internship - Abdallah sought assistance from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Islamic civil liberties group with an office in Los Angeles. Within a week, Disney relented, allowing her to work in the vacation planner job with a uniform that includes a blue head scarf with a beret-style hat over it.

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