The Norman Transcript

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January 25, 2013

State banks recognize religious rights by revisiting policies

NORMAN — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and CAIR-Oklahoma, the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, recently expressed their appreciation to the Oklahoma Bankers’ Association for clarifying a security measure commonly referred to as “No Hats, No Hoods, No Sunglasses” employed by many of Oklahoma’s banks to better take into account the religious requirements of some customers to cover all or a portion of their heads.

“We are incredibly pleased that the OBA recognizes that respecting the religious requirements of their customers and ensuring a safe and secure banking environment can go hand in hand,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma.

The ACLU of Oklahoma, CAIR-OK and the Oklahoma Conference of Churches requested the meeting with the OBA following an incident in which a Muslim woman was initially denied access to a Tulsa area bank and asked to remove her Hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women that covers all or part of her hair and is draped around her neck, before entering. The bank cited the “No Hats, No Hoods, No Sunglasses” policy to justify its actions.

“Our goal in meeting with the OBA was to use this unfortunate situation as a teaching moment about the different types of head coverings worn by Muslim women as well as head garments worn by individuals of other faiths as well,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR-OK.

“It was evident very early in our meeting with OBA that they were sincerely interested in ensuring that their increasingly diverse customer base could go about their business without being embarrassed or targeted for special treatment simply because of their faith,” Kiesel said.

The Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, said that he was delighted with the way the OBA has handled this sensitive issue.

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