On the last anniversary of September 11 I wrote that the terrorist attack was a great PR victory for Islam. Islam drew inordinate amount of attention and virtually any discussion of this religion not framed in politically correct terms can be labeled “hate’. Never mind that real life hate is what motivates terrorists and their supporters, like those storming the US embassies in Egypt and Libya. There are Muslims in this country who are working towards mandating Islamic law in American institutions.
We were heading for Disneyland when the news of a Muslim woman suing the theme park broke last month. Imane Boudlal worked for Disney for two years before she insisted on wearing her hijab to work. She was told to either remove it or work “backstage” (note: “backstage” is a Disney term; they refer to their employees as “cast members”). Disney attempted to accommodate the plaintiff, offering her a bow-tied bonnet, a compromise she refused. After repeated refusals to either work remove the hijab or accept a “backstage” position, Boudlal was suspended. Not surprising that she didn’t want to be part of the production. The most interesting part of this story is that Ms. Boudlal claims that she learned that she can wear her hijab to work from her citizenship exam. Really? Well, one can get a few questions wrong but still pass the exam.
I wrote about a Muslim woman suing for hijab before, in that case the suit involved Abercrombie. If an employer wants a certain look for his venue, it’s his prerogative to ask his employees to comply; no individual has the right to work for any employer, only the right to look for work. I’m not sure why a devote Muslima would want to associate with a company known for rehashing old pagan tales or steamy ad campaigns. What’s next, the right to cover one’s hair at Hooters?
I don’t believe religious Muslim men are entitled to Disney jobs either, and they will be unable to hold those jobs because the company doesn’t allow facial hair. I suspect we always hear about the litigious girls in hijabs because bearded men would not solicit much sympathy.
Women solicit sympathy, but hijabs? While in Disneyland I saw a woman clad in a niquab (the kind of gear that only leaves her eyes open) and a long-sleeve dress made of heavy fabric. That’s in Orange County in August, mind you. The front of her gown was soaked with sweat. She was chaperoned by a man in a light cotton shirt. Sad.
Disney is notoriously particular about it’s image. Forget uniform and facial hair, I took my daughters to the Princess Faire, where I photographed her next to Disney princesses and had them sign her ticket. They probably teach them how to sign their names. They put on a show for little girls, and every detail has to be just perfect.
Customer service kind of sucks in this day and age, but not at Disney parks. I was amazed by how friendly and helpful all of their employees were. I assume they are all devotees of children’s films and are pretty excited to work in a theme park. But the fact that they are required to wear a uniform might also be a factor: They know much is expected from them.