May 25, 2012
Muslim woman confronted in N.J. mall
(UPI) -- A Muslim woman accused a security guard at a Bridgwater, N.J., shopping mall of attempting to take off her niqab.
Wakeelah Salaam, 30, was born in the United States and has chosen to wear the niqab for years without issue. However, only 10 minutes after entering the Bridgwater Commons mall with her two young sons, she says a guard confronted her.
"I was passing by the Apple store when he got in my face. He said, 'This is a private place. You can't wear that in here,'" she told the New York Post. "He came into my face and made a hand gesture like he was going to lift my veil off."
When Salaam tried to speak with his supervisor, another guard told her she was "overreacting."
The first guard confronted her once more.
"He told me, 'I don't know who you are, and I need you to take that off,'" Salaam said.
She said the incident made her feel like a "victim" and embarrassed her in front of her boys, ages 5 and 12.
"They humiliated me, the way they made me feel. I went home and cried for over an hour," she said. "I would never go back to that mall. I know [the guard] doesn't live under a rock, so [he] knows what a Muslim woman wears."
Bridgewater Commons has reached out to Salaam with a written apology, saying the guard in question was sent to diversity training.
"We respect her right to dress according to her religious beliefs and she is welcome in our mall anytime," a mall official told the Post.