New Age Islam News Bureau
12 May 2016
Photo: The Women's Leadership Institute and the Salt Lake Chamber host the ElevateHer Challenge at a networking event at the Falls Event Center at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
• Ambreen Razia Tackling Sex, Drugs, and Teen Pregnancy among Muslim Girls
• Why I Am A Frustrated and Angry 22-Year-Old American-Nigerian-Ghanaian Muslim Woman
• Meet the Women Trying To Rid Pakistan — and the World — Of Polio
• Educated Muslim Women ‘Find It More Difficult’ To Get Jobs in Australia
• Sikh Man Allowed To Keep Turban, Beard in US Army, Muslim Woman Denied Right To Wear Hijab
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Utah initiative inspiring women, pushing companies to value them
Wednesday, May 11 2016
"It really comes down to balance and knowing where your priorities are. My children are my priority, and I feel I'm contributing to their future by the kind of work I do," said Estabrooke, executive director at the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, an agency that turns university research into job- and revenue-producing companies in the state.
Attending a women's college and being inspired by great men and women throughout her life, personally and in the work place, has taught Estabrooke to be confident and take risks for opportunities to progress, she said.
A growing number of women are putting themselves out there, applying for promotions and running for political office. And more Utah businesses, corporations and organizations are stepping up to stand behind them, according to Utah's Women's Leadership Institute.
The group is overwhelmed with positive responses from employers and employees looking for resources to promote more women in Utah, said CEO and former Utah lawmaker Pat Jones. The number of participating organizations has almost tripled since the institute launched its ElevateHER Challenge a year ago.
At least 120 Utah-based brands have signed on.
"It's become a business imperative," Jones said. "People are realizing that it adds to the quality of life when women both step up and are valued in boardrooms, businesses and politics."
Local businesses that are actively working to recruit, hire and promote more women in leadership positions (commitments included in the challenge) are reporting increased returns on investment and enhanced reputations, and are having an easier time attracting and retaining talent in a competitive market, she said.
"It's not about quotas or where you've been in the past. It's about looking forward and implementing strategies to include more women in senior levels," Jones said.
Studies show that women are highly influential when it comes to consumer habits in homes and families, as well as in business. Women oftentimes offer a different perspective due to different life experiences. And due to low unemployment rates, women are now making up a greater portion of the workforce.
"To have that voice at the table is absolutely critical for companies as they move forward," Jones said.
Zions Bancorp. was one of the first organizations to join the ElevateHER Challenge last year, and it plans to continue the momentum created by it, having added all kinds of forums specific to ethnicities, military service and ambition levels for its employees.
"We will definitely continue to foster inclusiveness and diversity in our workplace," said Heidi Prokop, Zions' senior vice president and public relations manager. "We hear great feedback from our employees about what we're doing, and it is making a difference."
The ElevateHER Challenge was developed out of a desire to motivate more women who want to be involved in decision-making capacities throughout the state.
Jones said women she spoke with prior to the launch were "tired of the talk. They wanted the walk." Tenets of the challenge stemmed from an idea implemented in Boston and has grown to include training and mentoring for political positions.
And as women and/or minorities are making up a greater portion of the incoming workforce in Utah and elsewhere, other states are taking notice. Idaho has created its own Women's Leadership Institute, fashioned after the one Jones leads in Utah.
Interest in the program, which links people to various developmental training opportunities and strategic ideas for mentoring, is rapidly increasing.
Ambreen Razia Tackling Sex, Drugs, and Teen Pregnancy among Muslim Girls
May 11, 2016
Ambreen Razia can remember exactly where she was when she saw her first "Hounslow girl." The 23-year-old writer and actress was standing at a bus stop outside McDonalds in Kingston-upon-Thames, when a girl came toward her in a Hijab and massive hoop earrings, chatting on the phone to her friend.
"She was bold and brash," Razia says. "People think if she's a British Muslim girl, she's not necessarily getting up to anything that other girls would be, but actually—we do. We just can't be as open about it. In a way, it's like leading a double life. It's holding up one character at home and then going out and assimilating into this very fast London life outside."
That encounter at the bus stop lead to The Diary of a Hounslow Girl—Ambreen's one-woman show about a streetwise teenage Muslim girl. It's already been converted into a YA novel and is currently touring theaters.
At its heart, the play is about double lives. It's narrated by 16-year-old Shahida, who has returned home to west London after her sister's wedding in Pakistan and is about to get into a relationship that will end with her getting pregnant. I caught up with Razia to chat about the themes of her play: sex, religion, and identity, and the tensions between them.
VICE: So what exactly is a "Hounslow girl"?
Ambreen Razia: It's a type of young, British Muslim woman. Girls who you might see in Shisha bars in a big group. They're urban, and they're fashionable. The majority wear Hijabs.
You were brought up in a Muslim household, and your play explores the challenges of having a dual identity growing up. How much of the play is autobiographical?
The majority of the characters within the play are based on stuff that I went through or observed. For example, a lot of the characters are based on friends I had at school. I think no matter what culture you're from, at the age of sixteen, we're all going through the same thing biologically. I was brought up in a Muslim household but was never forced to wear the hijab, and I never chose to wear it.
The play tackles teen pregnancy. Was that based on observation too?
A young British Muslim girl becoming pregnant before marriage at sixteen is a big, big deal. But it's happened—and it's happened to people I've known. It's something that I really wanted to explore. The choices she had once she got into that situation and how limited they are.
Are you hoping this play is going to bust a few stereotypes about young British Muslim women?
That's definitely what I wanted to do. Straight away, when you see a Muslim girl on a poster, you think, Does this have a political agenda attached to it? Could this be about the girls who went off to Syria? And actually, it's just a coming-of-age story.
She's just a teenage girl like any other...
Yeah, and I think that whether you come from a strict Jewish or Catholic background, it doesn't matter. It's just showing that young girls who come from traditional backgrounds have parameters around them that can make coming of age more difficult.
You started off as an actress. Why did you decide to become a writer too?
Like any young drama student, I just wanted to get back on the stage, but that's not necessarily what's going to happen, particularly being a young Asian actress. The roles aren't as generous as you think they're going to be.
Did you feel frustrated about the lack of acting roles for Asian women?
I think just being an actress in general—you're just sitting there waiting for your phone to ring. If you can do something else with your time, I would say just go for it. Get your story out there, and give yourself a platform. It's frustrating, but rather than talk about it, you have to do something about it.
Is there a particular issue in the play you feel is the most important?
The fact that she's entering motherhood as a young, single, British Muslim. It's completely out of the norm. I suppose the question is: How is the community going to treat her after that? Because the risk is much higher. This thing of community I think needs to be abolished. This sense of "what are they going to think?"
Do you think that kind of community pressure can make some girls rebel more?
I think they feel like they're rebelling more because of the stuff that's been implemented in their head. I remember going to my classes at the mosque and the imam saying—I put it in the play—that women who wear the Hijab are protected. You're battling with all these things, so if you go out and have sex or do drugs, you feel the guilt three times more than anyone else.
What have your friends made of the play? Were you nervous about them seeing it?
No, not at all! My two friends who I based it on were just really happy that I got the story out there. They said it was quite liberating to see it. I just wanted to tell it right.
Why I Am A Frustrated and Angry 22-Year-Old American-Nigerian-Ghanaian Muslim Woman
1. I am angry because my White friend said her mother does not want her to have Black friends.
2. I am angry because my friend from Egypt told me her mother told her to never marry a Black man. Because she said Black people are slaves.
3. I am angry because my Muslim friend from Pakistan told me that Black people are not smart.
4. I am angry because when I tried to explain to her why she is wrong, she also tried to explain to me why she is right and she insisted that Black people are just really not that smart.
5. I am angry because we are no longer friends because she looks down on my people.
6. I am angry because I still have to explain why I am angry.
7. I am angry because I have to deal with Islamophobia with non-Muslims and racism from Muslims and non-Muslims simultaneously.
8. I am angry because you’re a piece of crap if you don’t care about this issue.
9. I am angry because some of you will take this personally instead of thinking outside of your privilege to try to understand another perspective.
10. I am angry because the death of our three Black Muslim brothers did not matter to some members of the Arab and Desi community as much as the death of our three Arab Muslim brother and sisters who died in Chapel Hill.
11. I am angry because one of the first questions some people asked when our three Black Muslim brothers died was were they in a gang?
12. I am angry because I’m tired of other races being on the news or any social media platform and speaking on our narrative as if they know how we feel. If you want to know how Black Muslims feel maybe you should ask Black Muslims.
13. I am angry because you always want to bring up, Bilal (may peace and blessing be upon him) whenever I mention your racist ways as a way to show solidarity as if that solves the issue.
14. I am angry because my other Desi friend said her parents are not comfortable with her having Black people come to her house.
15. I am angry because my classmate walked up to me on campus and asked me if it is harder for Black Muslim women to get married? She mentioned something along the lines of nobody wants us even our own Black Muslim Men don’t want us because they want something more exotic. Therefore, we need to set up an event or organization to help Black Muslim women get married as if the Black Muslim woman is a charity.
16. I am angry because when I was in high school someone told me you are pretty for a Black girl as a compliment.
17. I am angry because someone asked me if I am mixed because I look better than the typical African as if I was supposed to be happy even though the person just demeaned my entire ethnicity in order to give me a compliment.
18. I am angry because the Imam of my old masjid said this is our religion and I didn’t really understand what he meant by that until one day a Black brother came to the masjid wanting to convert and he asked the revert who are you and who is your family? Because we need to know who we are allowing into our religion?
19. I am angry because a Muslim girl on campus admitted to me that when she used to teach at Sunday school the Imam told her to focus her teaching on only the Arab students.
20. I am angry because the same lady who would not even look at me or say Salaam to me during Jummah walked right up to me and said Salaam because she needed a nice Black sister to teach her how to drive for free.
21. I am angry because during Friday prayer, they don’t want their feet to touch yours and they constantly move further away from you when the point of praying together is to pray together since we are supposed to be one Ummah.
22. I am angry because the last time I was invited to speak at an MSA event the president did not even greet me or acknowledge my presence as a guest. After my spoken word performance, she said it was good, even though she didn’t stay to watch because she told me she heard it from outside.
23. I am angry because when I first met a Muslim lady from Saudi Arabia she started asking me if I know how to say Surah Fatiha, if I pray in Arabic and if I know who Khadijah the first wife of the prophet s.a.w is. This is basic knowledge for every Muslim. I feel she would not have asked me these questions if I was from Saudi or if she saw me as one of her people.
24. I am angry because growing up, the people who called me African booty scratcher were as black as me.
25. I am angry because African-American people do not see me as African and American they see me as only an African. I am angry because Africans do not see me as African they see me as an American. I am angry because the American people do not see me as an American they see me as an African Muslim woman and that is why I am a frustrated and angry 22-year-old American-Nigerian-Ghanaian Muslim woman.
Meet the women trying to rid Pakistan — and the world — of polio
May 11, 2016
Her slender hand sheathed in a black glove, Saira Nizamuddin gathered the fabric of her full-length abaya as she stepped across an alley strewn with rocks and trash.
The 19-year-old health worker walked alone, the mid-morning sun pressing down on the dirt streets and soaking into the black fabric covering her from head to toe. It was better this way, she thought. In the past, for security reasons, police officers had followed her as she visited houses to administer the polio vaccine to children.
Now, she and 10 vaccinators, all local women, were working unguarded. The low-profile approach was meant to assuage fears in their community that the vaccine was unsafe, forbidden by Islam or a cover for Western espionage — myths that have given the crippling virus, eradicated nearly everywhere else in the world, a lifeline in conservative Pakistan.
“This is my neighborhood,” Nizamuddin said. “We’re fine without the police.”
On the third day of a weeklong anti-polio drive last month in Karachi, a sprawling seaside metropolis, Nizamuddin turned left down an unmarked road. Two colleagues were waiting outside a residence. A metal gate opened slightly, and the women slipped inside.
Two hours later, however, the campaign was suspended across the city. Nizamuddin and her team were instructed to go home immediately. A few miles away, in a rough-and-tumble district called Orangi Town, seven police officers providing security for a polio team had been shot to death by gunmen riding motorcycles.
Pakistan’s long struggle against the disease was interrupted once again.
The militant violence that has claimed tens of thousands of Pakistani lives in the past decade also has stood in the way of a multibillion-dollar global campaign to wipe out what once was among the world’s most feared afflictions.
From 1988, when the world reported more than 350,000 new polio cases, the number dropped to just 74 last year: 54 in Pakistan, the rest in Afghanistan. Those are the only countries where the virus hangs on, finding sanctuary in the remote, mountainous border region and in the open sewers of hot, crowded neighborhoods in Karachi, a melting pot of 22 million-plus inhabitants.
India was declared polio-free in 2014, five years after it accounted for half the cases in the world. Nigeria, formerly a reservoir for the disease in Africa, hasn’t reported a new case in nearly two years.
“It feels like all the fingers are pointing at us,” said Aziz Memon, chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign in Pakistan.
Polio invades the central nervous system, can trigger life-threatening paralysis and is easily transmitted between humans in places with poor sanitation. There is no cure, but the virus can be eliminated from a population through mass immunizations. In the United States, that has meant injecting young children with the vaccine introduced by Jonas Salk in the 1950s.
But in countries like Pakistan, where children are more vulnerable to infections and there are fewer trained health workers, community-wide resistance to the disease has been improved with a less-expensive oral vaccine — a couple of drops on a child’s tongue, administered multiple times before age 5.
Workers go door-to-door throughout the year in an effort to reach every child, a painstaking mission underwritten by international donors at a cost of $1 billion every year. The U.S. has spent more than $1.3 billion on global anti-polio efforts since 2009.
But health officials and international experts think Pakistan could finally stop the spread of the disease this year. One of their reasons for optimism is people like Nizamuddin, who is part of a new strategy to employ local women to administer the vaccine and make regular house visits in some of the highest risk areas.
That includes her neighborhood in Gulshan, a warren of low-slung concrete blocks in eastern Karachi that is home to a large population of migrants from the Afghan border region, and the remote province of Baluchistan, both polio hotbeds. A 17-month-old boy was diagnosed with the virus here in December, the seventh case in the city last year.
Reports said the boy’s family had refused the vaccine. For years, Pakistani Taliban militants waged a propaganda war against the immunizations, describing them as a Western plot to sterilize Muslims and issuing a fatwa, or religious decree, against female health workers.
In 2012, militant leaders in the border area banned vaccinations in protest of U.S. drone strikes, leaving half a million children out of reach. The same year, immunization teams came under attack after it emerged that the CIA previously had enlisted a Pakistani doctor to snoop on Osama bin Laden’s hideout using the cover of a fake anti-hepatitis campaign.
Attacks blamed on extremists since have killed more than 100 health workers and security forces assigned to protect them. Male vaccinators in particular were suspected as spies, making them reluctant to travel without escort.
“People would ask me, ‘Are you a real health worker or a fake one?’ ” recalled Nizamuddin, who has worked on polio drives for four years. “Or parents would refuse on religious grounds.”
From 2012, when Pakistan recorded just 58 new polio cases — and none in Karachi — the number jumped to 306 in 2014, by far the most of any country.
Over the past two years, a security crackdown against militants in the border area and inside Karachi has allowed polio workers back into many former no-go zones. By late 2015, only about 30,000 children remained inaccessible, and transmission had slowed considerably: In the first four months of this year, Pakistan saw eight new polio cases, down from 22 over the same period in 2015.
But the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s Independent Monitoring Board warned that without successful vaccination campaigns this spring, the disease would reemerge in the heat of summer.
“We were very close in the last decade,” said Memon, the PolioPlus campaign chairman in Pakistan. “This time, we hope we’re not going to miss the opportunity.”
We were very close in the last decade. This time, we hope we’re not going to miss the opportunity.
— Aziz Memon, chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus campaign in Pakistan
From the parking lot of a spartan government health clinic in Gulshan, pairs of female health workers, covered from head to toe in headscarves and black abayas, set off into the neighborhood carrying vials of polio vaccines in unmarked thermos bottles.
Three paramilitary Rangers in drab uniforms watched from a parked pickup, then drove off to patrol the periphery of the neighborhood. The women didn’t see them again for hours.
“There’s no need for security,” said Sikander Ali, a local health department official, who added that the presence of gun-toting police often scared residents. “People view the female health workers as locals.”
In the monochrome crowd, Nizamuddin, a team leader, stood out with a glittery blue headband, oversized purple watch and yellow trousers peeking out from under her abaya.
She comes from a family of polio workers. Her two elder sisters volunteered until they got married; her mother worked for eight years until she had to drop out this year because she couldn’t read, and the World Health Organization sought to recruit more educated women.
“She feels bad,” Nizamuddin said of her mother. “But she is happy that I can still help the cause.”
The WHO increased funding for female health workers, who earn full-time salaries of $150 a month. Attendance and morale have improved over the earlier system, which employed part-timers, including men, whose $5 daily wages were paid by the government, and often delayed.
“The men weren’t as dedicated,” Nizamuddin said. “And families used to refuse male workers. The interaction we have is totally different.”
One of her team members, Nagma, a mother of four, said few families reject the immunizations now. In one case, she persuaded a reluctant mother to allow the vaccine to be given by showing her cellphone pictures of her own children, who had been vaccinated multiple times.
In more difficult cases, the women called on Surat Khan Osman, a genial local cleric with a black beard that shone like lacquer and a battered cellphone that flashed with text messages notifying him of families who declined vaccinations.
Officials say clerics have become key partners. That morning, Osman and a team of female vaccinators visited two houses where parents claimed the vaccine would cause infertility. He won them over with a copy of a 2014 fatwa from religious scholars that said the vaccine was “fully permissible” under Islamic law and that parents were obligated to protect their children from polio.
“We are part of the community,” Osman said, “so people cannot refuse us.”
The morning after last month's shooting death of the officers, shaken health workers resumed the drive across the city. Rangers beefed up their presence in some areas; plainclothes security forces shadowed teams in others.
In Nizamuddin’s neighborhood of Sachal Goth, the women opted for an even lower profile. They avoided being seen in groups and varied their schedules. For the rest of the week, they tried to complete their rounds before lunch.
By week’s end, the teams in Sachal Goth inoculated 2,117 children — two dozen more than had been counted in a pre-campaign survey days earlier. One of Nizamuddin’s teams found a child whose family was visiting from outside the city and wasn’t on their list, but took the opportunity to administer the polio drops because he was scheduled to be vaccinated.
The female teams are now covering nearly 40% of Karachi’s 2.2 million children younger than 5, and the initiative soon could be expanded further. International officials describe its success as part of an overall improvement in Pakistan’s management of the crisis.
“The results are very promising,” said Huma Khan, a UNICEF polio specialist who has worked in the field for seven years. “It looks like we’re getting close to eradication. I’ve never been so hopeful that this can be done.”
Educated Muslim Women ‘Find It More Difficult’ To Get Jobs in Australia
May 12, 2016
SOME tertiary-educated Muslim women in Melbourne’s west face discrimination because of their cultural background, a new research project suggests.
The University of Melbourne and Women’s Health West have launched a the project to look at barriers women face, to help support them and educate employers.
Women’s Health West health promotion worker Susan Timmins said so far the researchers had spoken to eight women, but would like to hear from many more.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests Muslim women are finding it more difficult than their non-Muslim counterparts with the same qualifications to gain a job,” Ms Timmins said.
She said Women’s Health West regularly heard from Muslim women with high-level qualifications relevant to the jobs they applied for, but who kept missing out on employment.
Ms Timmins said she did not wish to presuppose what the study might discover, but some Muslim women thought that perhaps employers were “making assumptions” about them.
Sikh Man Allowed To Keep Turban, Beard in US Army, Muslim Woman Denied Right To Wear Hijab
May 11, 2016
Yet another Sikh man has been accommodated in the US Army with unshorn beard and full turban, keeping his faith intact, but a Muslim woman has been denied a request to wear Hijab over her uniform at a military college, signaling that religious diversity is making inroads for some in the services, on a case-to-case basis.
California resident Harpal Singh begins his Army training this week with his beard and turban, after the US Army accommodated his request. McClatchy reported that the Army faced legal and political heat, including from Central Valley lawmakers over the issue and gave in to Singh’s request.
“The accommodations are an enormous step forward,” Harsimran Kaur, California-based legal director for the Sikh Coalition, said Monday, adding that “they were made under pressure.”
But while Singh, 34, left from his San Francisco Bay Area home for Army basic combat training, the systemic policy that once impeded his enlistment remains in place. For now, Sikhs must request religious accommodations on a case-by-case basis.
This tension between religious dictates and military standards is playing out in federal court, where a judge last Friday declined to grant Ranger-trained West Point graduate firmer protections for following Sikh traditions. This officer, like Harpal Singh, is relying on an individual accommodation.
The judge rejected the request by Army Capt. Simratpal Singh to consolidate his lawsuit with one filed on behalf of several Sikhs including Harpal Singh, who is no relation, reported McClatchy. A request for a preliminary injunction, which would have given more legal force to Capt. Singh’s individual accommodation, was also denied.
An estimated 500,000 Sikhs live in the United States, with roughly half of them in California. Particularly significant Sikh populations reside in Central Valley municipalities including Yuba City, Fresno and Livingston.
Male Sikhs leave their hair uncut and bound in a turban as a mark of commitment to Sikhism’s “divine presence.” This conflicts with military grooming standards, which can start with a basic-training buzz cut.
In 2014, 105 lawmakers, including seven from the Central Valley, urged the Pentagon to permanently revise its grooming policies to cover all Sikh soldiers and prospective recruits.
“Given the achievements of these soldiers and their demonstrated ability to comply with operational requirements while practicing their faith, we believe it is time for our military to make inclusion of practicing Sikh Americans the rule, not the exception,” the lawmakers wrote.
Speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government last December, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a Sikh member of the Army National Guard that the military needs “everybody who can contribute to our mission (and) who can meet what are high standards.” Nonetheless, individual determinations remain the route to exemption from military grooming rules.
Harpal Singh was born in New Delhi and trained as an engineer before going to the Bay Area five years ago. He has been living in Dublin, California, and working as a contractor for Ericsson, setting up cellular communications networks.
As a fluent speaker of Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu, he first tried to enlist in the Army in 2011 and again in 2012 through a program recruiting those with vital skills.
“I was told I could not join because of my beard and turban,” Singh said in a declaration.
Last November, after learning the military was offering individual accommodations through the Army’s Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, Singh signed an enlistment contract. In late March, still waiting for his accommodation, he joined one of the lawsuits, the McClatchy report said.
About a week after Singh sued, the Army delivered the accommodation that enabled him to report for Army training this week: With his hair wrapped in a turban, the Army declared, “your hair may not fall over your ears or eyebrows or touch your collar of your uniform.”
It added that officials “may withdraw or limit the scope of your accommodation for reasons of military necessity.”
The news of harpal Singh’s accommodation in the US Army has been welcomed by Sikhs.
“We are forever grateful for being accepted for who we are and what we believe,” said Karm Bains, reported CBS.
Bains is a fourth-generation farmer and developer in Sutter County and is pleased to hear a few of his fellow Sikhs won’t have to compromise on faith or patriotism.
“One thing is we are all proud to be Americans,” he said.
For generations, military men have been required to be clean-shaven with short, cropped hair. Recently, three army enlistees and a U.S. Army captain won the right to wear beards and turbans for religious reasons.
Bains says for those in the Sikh community, the beard and turban are foundations of faith. He’s grateful to hear the government recognizes that.
“For the military to accept us in the way we look or allow us to practice our religion or keep our articles or our faith while serving this great nation is true honor and privilege,” he said. “It’s with great pride and honor to see fellow Sikhs serving our great country,” he added.
While there was jubilation for Sikhs, Muslim women who prefer to wear a hijab and service in the US Army, have an uphill battle ahead.
Raw Story reported a Muslim student will not be allowed to wear a Hijab with her uniform at the Citadel military college in South Carolina should she decide to enroll this fall, the school’s president said on Tuesday.
Lieutenant General John Rosa, the president, said the public military college recognized the importance of individual religious beliefs but could not grant the exception to the standardized uniform considered essential to its learning goals.
“Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model,” Rosa said in a statement. “This process reflects an initial relinquishing of self during which cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit.”
Rosa said the student’s request to wear the headscarf was given “considerable review” by the college in Charleston, and he added the school hoped the admitted student would still enroll.
The student was informed of the decision Tuesday morning and has not said whether she will attend, Citadel spokesman Brett Ashworth said in a phone interview, reported Raw Story.
Some students and alumni had spoken out against allowing the exception to be made, citing the military college’s emphasis on uniformity in apparel and privileges.
Citadel students are required to wear uniforms furnished by the college at nearly all times except when the corps of cadets is furloughed or a cadet is on leave, according to the college’s website.
Ashworth said the Citadel allowed an exception to the uniform requirement several years ago when a cadet requested for religious reasons to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt for physical fitness training.
“We do everything we can to support our cadets,” Ashworth said. “We allow cadets prayers time. We’ve released cadets on a Friday night or a Saturday night or to miss an inspection for a religious service.”
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