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A Muslim soldier says her command sergeant major forced her to removeher hijab

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Sgt. Cesilia Valdovinos was at a chapel at Fort Carson, Colorado, for a suicide prevention briefing on March 6 when she says her command sergeant major grabbed her by the arm, took her outside and made her remove her religious head covering in front of others.




The senior noncommissioned officer believed that Valdovinos, 26, who has an approved exemption from her brigade commander to wear a hijab in uniform, was wearing her hair out of regulations underneath it, she told Army Times on Tuesday.




“To me, it was the same thing as if they had asked someone to take their top off,” the soldier, a member of the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, said.




No one had asked her whether her hair was in a regulation bun, she added, before demanding that she remove the garment.




She took off the scarf portion of the covering first, she said, but Command Sgt. Maj. Kerstin Montoya demanded she completely expose her hair. When she removed the cap underneath, which covers her hairline and underneath her chin, the length of hair came loose from its bun.




The battalion adjutant, who accompanied Valdovinos and Montoya for the inspection, says that the senior NCO tapped the sergeant on her shoulder before leading her outside of the chapel.




“Upon removing her hijab it was evident her hair was completely down,” Capt. Brooke Smith said in a statement. “CSM Montoya told her to get her hair back in regulation and not let it happen again. At no point did CSM Montoya touch the soldier or yell at her (at all or within earshot of other soldiers).”




Valdovinos claims her hair was tied up under the hijab. The under-cap has an extra length of fabric inside, she explained, that she wraps around her bun to secure it before pulling the cap down. That’s why her hair came loose when she removed it, she said.




It was the first time since receiving her waiver that the soldier had ever been confronted about her hijab, she said. But not the first she felt targeted as a Muslim in the Army.




In an Equal Opportunity complaint filed on March 7, she said, she described her first sergeant referring to her as “the girl with the hood.” A culinary specialist, she said, she was recently reassigned from an on-post dining facility to her battalion’s headquarters company after objecting to cooking pork products.




And previously, she added, she reported to her company commander that while deployed last year, another soldier referred to her as a terrorist. The captain did not escalate the claim, she said.




“I take all reports of soldiers disrespecting another soldier’s religious beliefs, observances, or traditions very seriously,” Col. David Zinn, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division commander who signed Valdovinos’ exemption memo, said in a statement. “There is currently an inquiry regarding Sgt. Valdovinos’ claim. I will ensure our unit continues our tradition of placing a high value on the rights of our soldiers to observe the tenets of their respective religions or to observe no religion at all.”




The inspection was a blatant act of Islamophobia, according to the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which represents Valdovinos.




“Unless this CSM, who wretchedly denigrated our MRFF client by ordering her to take off her hijab in public, enjoys the extraordinary powers of X-ray vision, it would have been impossible for this CSM to have even seen the hair of our MRFF client,” Mikey Weinstein said in a statement.




The under-cap is an integral part of the approved hijab, he added.




“I wish they would just ask me if they have questions,” Valdovinos said.






3 comments:

  1. She joined the military to be a soldier. Hijab goes!

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  2. Why is he acting like the issue was her hair not being the right way? The problem is she was wearing a hijab which is against military dress code. What the hell is wrong with everyone? Why do you think we should change our laws and ways that have been a certain way for decades for "outsiders". Whats funny is yall bow down to the religion that has radicals who would love nothing more than destroy us, yet persecute christianity which has never planned and executed an attack on America. Why the hell is wrong with you. Do you see just how completely idiotic that is. These that do this are the dumbest of the dumb. They literally have no backbone. They are a pathetic excuse as a human and should not ever be appointed to an official position. I dont want any one in a position to where they make decisions for this country when they cant stand up for what this country is been based on for 200+ years.

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