Muslim Woman and Her Support Team Allege Disneycrimination in Hijab Flap, Suggest Top Brass Ride "It's a Small World"

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All photos by Keith May/OC Weekly
As we reported earlier, a Muslim woman who works as a hostess in the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort was not allowed to come to work today because she was wearing her hijab, a traditional Islamic headscarf.

This was the fourth time that the woman, 26-year-old Anaheim resident Imane Boudlal, attempted to work in the headscarf. Each time, she's been told to remove the scarf or leave.

This time, however, she showed up with some back up.

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Boudlal was surrounded by reporters as she attempted to go to work for the fourth time.
Boudlal was accompanied by representatives of Unite Here Local 11, a union representing hotel workers involved in a contract dispute with Disney, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the rights group whose state office is in Anaheim.

She and her support team insisted that Disney did not allow her to work because of discriminatory policies against Muslims.

However, theme park officials insisted in a press release that Disney offered Boudlal "reasonable accommodations" on her request to wear the headscarf.

Boudlal said those accommodations would have forced her to work in the back of the hotel, where she wouldn't be seen, rather than greeting guests in her job as a hostess.

"Why should I have to hide?" Boudlal asked at a press conference conveniently Unite Here and CAIR organized at the intersection of Disney Way and the driveway leading to the Grand Californian.

"I'm not here to scare anyone," she continued. She explained that she had requested that she be allowed to wear the headscarf in a written letter to her Disney employers. When she didn't hear back for two months, she went to work anyway in early August.

Boudlal said when she went to work wearing the hijab, her manager told her early that day she could wear the headscarf, but she was later escorted from the hotel by security.

She said she understood that the headscarf didn't comply with the "Disney look," but she felt she was being discriminated against because other workers were allowed to wear symbols of Christian faith, tattoos and other symbols that didn't comply with the rules.

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Ameena Qazi
​Basically, things don't look very good for Disney from a public relations standpoint. It doesn't help that Boudlal's supporters, Unite Here, have made it known they don't like the way Goofy and Co. do business.

Neither does CAIR, apparently. Ameena Qazi, deputy executive director and staff attorney for the group, seemed downright hostile to Disney when she stood up to speak at the press conference.

"Disney is positioning itself as a company that discriminates," Qazi said. "I suggest [Disney] take a ride on 'It's A Small World,' a ride that celebrates diversity."

Now that sounds like a hit below the belt of your red-colored, white-buttoned trousers.


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