New Delhi, November 10 In response to a request by an American Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, US Army has decided to review a policy of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) that effectively barred participation of Muslim students wearing an Islamic head scarf, or hijab.
Last month, Miss Demin Zawity, a 14-year-old Muslim student at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tennessean, was forced to transfer out of a JROTC class when her commanding officers told her she could not wear hijab while marching in the September homecoming parade. After being contacted by the student's family, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote to both the school district and the US Department of Defense (DOD) to seek constitutionally-protected religious accommodations for the girl and for future Muslim JROTC participants.
Responding to the letter of CAIR, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Larry Stubblefield wrote: "I have been asked to provide an interim reply on behalf of the Secretary of Defense to your October 13, 2011 letter concerning Miss Demin Zawity's request to wear a religious head covering (hijab) while participating in an Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) event at Ravenwood High School. Based on your concerns, the Army is reviewing its policies related to religious accommodation as they apply to JROTC, and we will provide you the results of that review upon completion. Please be assured, that it is not the intent of the JROTC policy to discriminate against any individual or religion.”
According to a press release issued on Nov 9 by CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR offered a booklet, called "An Educator's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," designed to help school officials provide a positive learning environment for Muslim students. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.