Community rallies behind teen asked to remove hijab to work at restaurant

"For this type to occur during this specific holy time is really a disgrace," said one man.

Sharifa Jackson Image
Monday, April 10, 2023
Teen says she was asked to remove Hijab for work at Glenside restaurant
Teen says she was asked to remove Hijab for work at Glenside restaurant

GLENSIDE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Zaakiyaah Kamper, 16, is a proud Muslim who wears her headscarf, or hijab, as a sign of her faith.

But she says she was told to take off her hijab in order to work.

"Her first day she wore it. She showed up for training, she wore it. Then they told my sister she couldn't wear it when she came back, but she wore it anyway," said the teen's aunt, Tameka Beverly. "In no way should anybody be discriminated against and made to feel less and pushed into a corner where they have to remove their hijab."

Beverly says her niece was hired as a waitress at Michael's Family Restaurant in Glenside.

This is also where the teen's mother works.

"My sister is in a situation she feels like she has to give in to their demand of removing her hijab, she's not in a spot where she can refuse to," said Beverly.

But she doesn't believe it's right.

On Saturday afternoon, the NAACP and community members gathered outside the eatery to pray and stand in solidarity with Kamper.

Those who came out say they will continue to call on leaders and push for change when it comes to equity.

"So we're here in support of this young lady and family to show that as a community this is something that won't be tolerated," said Imam Idris Adul-Zahir, with Masjidullah Inc.

"For this type to occur during this specific holy time is really a disgrace," said President of NAACP, Cheltenham, Eddie Graham.

Michael's Family Restaurant in Glenside released a statement Saturday:

"Michael's Family Restaurant has been serving Glenside for over 15 years and have always taken pride in our quality of service, respect for our customers, and the diversity of our employee and customer base.

A video posted online on Friday, April 7, 2023, recorded one of our employees violating the values of our establishment. Our leadership team evaluated facts of the case and we would like our community to know that, effective Friday April 7, 2023, this employee is no longer affiliated with Michael's Family Restaurant in Glenside.

We thank everyone who reached out to our Restaurant to record their disappointment. We share their sentiments and would like to underline that we value and respect every background that we proudly serve, including our Muslim-American customers. We are saddened that this incident disrupted their peaceful observance of the month of Ramadan. Needless to note, our beloved employee will be able to work here with her khimar should she wish to do so.

Additionally, we commit to meeting with Muslim-American community members to listen to them and also have our staff go through a sensitivity training to ensure an incident like this never repeats. We will work with CAIR-Philadelphia and other leaders to achieve these goals."

The family says they are unsure if the teen will return to work.

Moving forward she does have legal representation.

"Our goal is to make them listen, to make them understand that you can't treat problems the way you want to treat them, religion and wearing your hijaab is a right," said Beverly.