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Muslim woman offended by local bank’s new policy

  • Husniyah Jones talks to The Nassau Guardian about her incident with security at the bank.. Edward Russell III / TNG

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Jan 21, 2012

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A Muslim woman wearing religious head coverings claimed yesterday that a security officer would not allow her to enter a Fidelity Bank branch because of the bank’s new security policy.

Husniyah Jones told The Nassau Guardian that on Tuesday before last she traveled to Fredrick Street to meet her husband who wished to do business with Western Union.

“I arrived there shortly after 2 p.m. and noticed a sign posted on the door indicating that Western Union had temporarily moved to the bank,” said Jones in an interview.

“I therfore attempted to enter the bank when I was approached on the sidewalk...by a security officer who informed me that I could not enter the bank with my head covered.

“I told her, ‘that’s not happening’ and she replied that it was for security reasons and that she was only doing her job.  She disappeared back inside the bank.”

Jones said that because of her religious beliefs and practices she is required as a Muslim woman to dress modestly and wear a head covering (a kemar) at all times in public.

Fidelity Bank’s new security policy posted at its entrances states that customers must remove their caps, hats or shades before entering the bank, according to Fidelity Bank President Gregory Bethel.

Some other banks have also instituted this policy.

However, Jones said her attire should not have been impacted by the bank’s policy as the kemar she wore is a partial covering that does not hide or obstruct her face.

“My kemar is not a fashion statement, a costume, nor a demand from my husband, but an ordination from God, the creator of the universe contrary to what the media portrays,” she said.

“My husband and I are both Muslims and adhere to our religious beliefs and practices and allow others the same courtesy...without hindrance.”

Bethel said yesterday that the new policy is to ensure that all individuals entering may be clearly seen on security cameras as a security precaution, but the policy should not have applied to Jones.

“She is absolutely right. The policy does not apply to her and it should not have applied to her, and we have since followed up with the security officer so that [the officer] understands that,” Bethel told The Nassau Guardian.

“I wrote to her on the 16th of January [but] I have not heard from her because I do not think she has received my letter as yet.”

Jones said she had no problem with individuals or companies taking necessary security measures to protect their establishments, especially in light of the high level of criminal activity, but was offended by the lack of cultural and religious sensitivity exhibited that day.

“When the powers that be make policies, they should ensure that persons left to implement them understand and interpret [them] as they are meant to be interpreted, and not have their own interpretation of the policy,” she said.

Bethel said that while staff members have been trained on the new security policy, he does not know the extent to which security officers have been trained because they are contracted via a third party.   “We have asked the security companies to be sensitive,” he said.

“Again it is a policy that should not have applied to these two customers and it was a mistake, and we have apologized for the mistake.”

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