June 28, 2022
Issue: Religious Freedom
Carnival Cruise Line Illegally Forced Muslim Woman to Remove Headscarf
Tallahassee, FL — On Monday, Muslim Advocates filed a complaint against Carnival Cruise Line for forcing a Muslim woman living in Texas to remove her headscarf in order to board a cruise ship in Galveston, TX. The complaint, filed as a first step with the Florida Commission of Human Rights because Carnival is based in Florida, demands that the company pay damages, issue an apology and enact policy changes and staff trainings ensuring that the company respects the religious freedom and dignity of Muslim women going forward.
On January 29, 2022, the complainant—a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf that covers her hair and wishes to remain anonymous—attempted to board a Carnival cruise ship in Galveston with her husband to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Before being allowed to board, a Carnival employee demanded that she remove her headscarf for a security photo even though the company states on their website that clothing that does not cover the face need not be removed. After the complainant’s pleas to keep her headscarf on were shot down, she requested a private room for the photo as required by Carnival’s contract, which the Carnival employee also refused to provide. Ultimately, the complainant was forced to remove her headscarf in public view and commit a humiliating violation of her sincerely-held religious beliefs.
“It is clear that Carnival’s employee disregarded the company’s own policies and targeted our client specifically because she is Muslim,” said Reem Subei, a senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “Excluding Muslim women who wear a headscarf, and any women who choose to exercise their religious choices in what they wear, is unacceptable. All women, regardless of their attire, are entitled to equal access to all places as every other person. We hope Carnival responds by providing justice for our client, but we are prepared to go the distance to hold the company accountable.”
“Carnival Cruise Line turned my wedding anniversary into a perpetual reminder of one of the most humiliating, debilitating moments of my life. Being unjustly forced to expose myself and violate my religious beliefs has caused me to withdraw from the world. I’m afraid to leave my house and even go to the grocery store because I worry someone else may treat me the way Carnival did,” said the complainant. “At great personal risk, I’m choosing to speak out to hold Carnival accountable and ensure that the company doesn’t violate any other woman like this ever again.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.