A Muslim family was left in shock after a security guard of a hospital in Virginia approached them and told them they’re not welcome in the hospital because they looked “scary.
According to the family, they were visiting Ahmed Zahr’s wife who had just given birth to a baby girl. After they entered the Fairfax’s Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and made it on the third floor, however, they were approached by a security guard who started yelling at them and told them they weren’t welcome.
“He screams and he says: ‘You’re not allowed to be here!’ And then he said: ‘You know, you look scary,’” Arwa Zahr, the newborn’s aunt, said.
As the Zahr family believes, the hospital guard was referring to niqabs, which cover the entire face, that Arwa and her mother were wearing when he called them scary.
While there is no law banning the use of niqabs in the U.S., wearers may have to unveil their faces on certain occasions for security reasons or to prove their identity.
As Ahmed added, the guard disrespected his family and told them to return to the lobby before calling in the shift supervisor, who is a head nurse, to intervene.
“We tried to explain to [the supervisor] our side of the story. He looked at my mother as she was trying to explain what happened, and he told her: ‘Close your mouth or I’ll kick you out,’” Ahmed said.
“He’s telling them: ‘Nobody wants you here. The nurses don’t want you. The doctors don’t want you here.’”
After the family tried to argue back, the hospital called the police who spoke to the family and left after the Zahrs filed a complaint against the hospital.
According to Ahmed, his family has never before been exposed to such level of discrimination.
“Just to be treated like that just because of the way you’re dressed,” Zahr said. “We’re been living here for, you know, 20-plus years. I haven’t witnessed discrimination to this extent.”
Following the incident, the Inova Fair Oaks released the following statement:
“Inova respects and values our diverse patient community and believes that all patients have the right to a respectful, safe environment, free from all forms of discrimination.
“We hold our team members and contractors to the highest ethical standards, supported by a strict zero tolerance policy against discrimination of any kind.
“We are reviewing the family’s concerns and we continue to look for opportunities to better manage these situations in the future.”
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