Alleged Discrimination Rocks N.Y. Waterways

Muslim Woman Plans On Filing Lawsuit, Wants 'Respect'

Updated 09/29/10 7:23 a.m.

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A New York Waterways employee has been suspended after telling two Muslim women to take off some of their religious attire.

CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey spoke with one of the women who feels she was singled out because of her religion.

On the docks of the New York Waterways, intolerance and ignorance reared their ugly head.

When Huda Alasali and a friend were denied a ferry ride to Governors Island on Saturday by a crew member who took issue with their wardrobe, regulations and security were the reasons given, but they’re not mentioned in any of the rules listed at the dock.

“I said to him, ‘If you have a metal detector, you can check our bags. You can check us. We don’t have nothing with us,'” Alasali said. “He said, ‘No you cannot go on the ferry with all that clothes. Take it off.'”

“Truly I felt like, you know what? He thinks that we are terrorists.”

When other passengers protested, the vessel’s captain got involved, and that’s when the crew member changed his story.

“He tells them that ‘Oh, I didn’t say that. I just wanted to know, I couldn’t hear what she was saying with this,’” Alasali said.

Alasali, who was with her children, eventually did get to the island, but Muslim advocates said they aren’t surprised.

“You have the gentleman who stabbed the cab driver after asking if he was Muslim. You have all these anti-Muslims, bigots that are protesting the ground zero mosque,” said Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York.

Authorities have apologized to Alasali and said the “employee in question has been suspended” and is “no longer permitted on ferries servicing Governors Island.”

“He said I want to apologize for what I did. I said how can we accept your apology after all the chaos you made? After making people look at us?” Alasali said.

Despite the apologies and the crew member’s suspension, Alasali said that’s not enough. She plans on filing a lawsuit.

“I don’t want money,” she said. “I’m looking for respect.”

Respect and the hope this never happens again.

New York Waterways said it has transported 200 million people without ever having a complaint like this and that it has no policy concerning ethnic or religious attire.

  • If we are One Nation, then why is racial profiling still such an issue? « Restore Fairness

    […] When Huda Alasali tried to board the ferry to Governor’s Island with her children and a friend last Saturday, a New York Waterways employee told her that she could not get on the ferry unless she removed some of her religious attire. She was told that removing her hijab was in compliance with regulations and security reasons, yet these were not rules listed on the dock. New York Waterways later confirmed that they have no rules against ethnic and religious attire. Huda spoke to CBS about her ordeal- […]

  • Friday Links — October 1, 2010 » Muslimah Media Watch

    […] Speaking of: A New York ferry employee has been suspended after telling two Muslim women to take off some of their religious attire. […]

  • Alleged Discrimination Rocks N.Y. Waterways | RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

    […] more on CBS New York Share and […]

  • Ahmed Khan

    The employee should be stoned to death for disrespecting the women.

  • alibababubu

    The religion of peace strikes again

  • carwell

    Can a woman sue the Saudi government if they don’t let her wear Western clothes?

    • KPMc

      Not sure… why don’t you go live there and find out. The rest of us will still be grateful to live in the land of the free.

  • Toy

    Yet another instance of Islams incompatibility with the west. The issue here isn’t that she might have been a terrorist (though it IS a distinct possibility),, it’s that here in America, people are free to pretty much wear whatever they like, but hiding your identity is a no-no… Are we to change our society to accommodate this religion?… I think not.

    • Aaishah

      Timothy McVeigh wasn’t wearing a Burqa. Are you saying that we have to call every one with an Irish accent a terrorist now that the UK has elevated the terror warning regarding the IRA? What about a spaniard? Basque Separatists anyone? She’s exercising her right to dress as she likes. And no you don’t have to change society to accommodate her belief. Just let the constitution protect those its supposed to protect and stop trying to create amendments that don’t exist (like zeroing in on women who wear niqab)

  • Simon

    First off this is not religious it is cultural. Nowhere is it written that a woman must cover her face. Unless of course she is hiding something

  • KPMc

    Filing a lawsuit because you were embarrassed, insulted or inconvenienced…

    Maybe they really are becoming Americanized cause that’s how most of us would react to.

    I support her right to wear what she wants and the guy was wrong for insisting on something he knew nothing about.. but a lawsuit?? come on.

  • peter

    We need to see people’s faces , it’s a security issue when we can’t see it . Anno 2010 we have terrorist and burqa’s are made for terrorist so they can hide and do what they want without beeing reconized . Muslim with normal burqa’s (you can see they faces) is no problem ! I’m glad that it’s prohibited in europe to go with a burqa in public places .

    • Aaishah

      #Fail. Its not prohibited in Europe. Its prohibited in France. France is hardly a bastion for religious freedom after all neither a Jew or Christian is allowed to display their religious artifacts either. France is a republic (In case you didnt know )
      And its called a JILBAB or an ABAYAA. Noone other than the news media call what muslim women wear a Burqa.

  • Reason

    The 2005 Arab Heritage Month was organised by Linda Sarsour and Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser. The Arab American Association of New Yorkrun by Sarsour is also involved in education and runs an after school program for grades K -12 for public school students. The courses have been held in radical mosques.

  • Reason

    Linda Sarsour has also attempted to shift attention away from her Hamas connections and construct a moderate facade by joining the board of the Dialogue Project an interfaith group which brings Israelis and “Palestinians” together to talk about peace and love. The organisation was started by her friend and colleague Dhabah Amontaser. KGIA advisory board member Khader El Yateem’s vitriolic diatribe against Israel on a PBS program about Arabs in America so outraged Abraham Foxman of the ADL that he wrote to the chairman demanding that El Yateem’s sequence be cut.

  • Alfred and Carrie

    If a nun can wear robes of respect, why not respect another religion that advocates covering up their faces in the immodest world.

  • Reason

    MIM: Linda Sarsour is the director of the Arab American Association of New York. In 2005 she organised the Arab American Heritage festival together with her friend Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser, the principal designate of The Khalil Gibran International Academy. In a 2004 article Sarsour revealed that Arab men pictured in an Arab newspaper recruiting suicide bombers for martyrdom were relatives and friends – one of them was her brother in law who is serving a 12 year sentence for his involvement with Hamas. Sarsour’s husband is facing deportation and she was “questioned by US authorities”. One reason could be that her husband together with his brother and Sarsour’s cousin, may have been involved in Hamas activities as well. He comes from El Bireh and his name was given as Maher Judh” in the article below. Note that Sarsour too “was questioned by US authorities”.

  • Edw. PS

    Filing a lawsuit will get the woman respect, more so than a full apology?
    I would show respect to a woman that held her head high in the face of ignorance, and accepted the apology. Yet by continuing on with filing the lawsuit she will get less respect than she had before; she will be viewed as just another pariah out to make as much money as she can.
    As for CBS-TV News – they could have done a more balanced story and mentioned that these men that work the public ferries have to go to a class on how to spot possible terror targets, and part of that course does contain a portion on what some would call “profiling”.
    Who runs the class? Why Homeland Security of course!
    It will always be an issue when Muslim women choose to wear the full burqa or chadri. Security systems are based on facial recognition, and as long as there is the possibility that there is a Joe under the burqa rather than a Jane, we will continue to have these run-ins.

    • Aaishah

      If you believe in freedom of religion then you can not deny the right of a woman to dress in the way that she feels religiously obligated to dress. If he felt uncomfortable he could have had a female crew member ask her to lift her niqab and Im pretty sure she would have complied. This is just going “over board” on his part and clearly the NY waterways agreed as he was suspended. He was suspended for doing something wrong and I give them kudos for that.

      • peter

        France,Belgium and now The Netherlands . Germany will follow soon like the rest of Europe . What is freedom ? Wearing a burqa witch shows only your eyes ? I’m sorry for those woman but they obsessed with the religion . I respect the normal moslims and i like them but the extreme ones are really obsessed with they religion it will have a bad impact on they social live and work . The next step is it will effect the economy , because those how wearing a burqa will not be able to work .

  • Mike

    That’s a woman?

  • JasonS

    Oh and by the way don’t you just love the confused message being broadcast by lefty liberals these days. Their philosophy changes like a chameleon according to the dominant talking points of the day. When feminism was all the rage, they would be the first to speak out against a culture that forces women to cover their faces in public. But now that defending Muslims from “bigots” is all the rage, they’re defending the very same anti-feminist culture. Leftists aren’t motivated by any coherent philosophy – they’re motivated by whatever they think is the appropriate stance to oppose conservatives, even if those stances contradict each other from one day to the next.

    • Jasmine

      We oppose blanket discrimination, not whole groups of people. Muslims must have equal religious protection, or any religion would be in danger based on public opinion. A woman must have to right to choose, what I would consider to be oppressive dress rules, because otherwise she is not truly free. No one can be free in this country if some people are not, because the tide can always turn and those you malign could someday be in a position to take away your rights, or mine. We must protect even those whos decisions we disagree with as long as they do not violate the personal rights of others. I support the right of christians to protest gay rights as much as I support the right of gay people to get married and live discrimination free lives.

    • KPMc

      Let me explain… people that support human rights think NO ONE should be FORCED to wear or do anything they don’t want to. Those same people, me included, that believe in freedom of speech, religion and life in general also believe people have the right to wear what they want if they choose.

      It’s not a conflicting message… it’s the same message…. you’re just too ignorant to comprehend it.

  • Muhamed

    she looks like a terrorist to me

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live