BOSTON: Nadia Alawa (below), a Muslim woman who always wears a headbag (hijab), claims that a sales associate in a clothing store was mean to her because she wanted to know how she was doing (all decked out in a stifling headbag on a very hot summer day.)
YAHOO Style THE BAGHEAD’S SIDE OF THE STORY: Nadia Alawa says she experienced “anti-Muslim discrimination, discomfort and humiliation” while shopping, and alleges that a sales associate insisted on making subtle jabs against her headbag.
In a lengthy July 3rd Facebook post, titled ““Discrimination against Muslims, request for help,” Alawa explained, she had been browsing at the White House Black Market, a popular women’s chain store, in Lynnfield, Mass. She was dressed up, she says, “in my usual Muslim American clothing (nothing about your clothing is American), which includes a hijab,” when a store manager approached her “with a smug smile” to ask how she was doing.
When she told the manager she was fine, the woman’s voice then shifted to an unfriendly tone as she asked, “No, how are you REALLY doing?”
Alawa continued: “I say I am fine, how are you? She then says, you must be hot, that is why I am asking. I say, I am fine. She says you ARE hot, the store has AC and I am dressed like *this* (looks at herself in shorts and a top), and I am hot, so you must be hot dressed like that. I turn around and look at her, put the hanger back and say I am very fine, thank you.”
I stand there for a minute, try to look casual, but feel so upset and humiliated. A basic shopping experience with two credit cards and cash in my purse and I have to defend my attire and am made to feel uncomfortable by a clerk that very clearly targeted me like a hungry shark out for fodder.”
“A minute later I go to the counter to file a complaint, but get distracted by my kids entering the store, so all I can do is ask for the woman’s name and store card and tell her I will be in contact with the higher manager.
Then Alawa tells her Facebook friends, “SO. If you believe this is NOT the way to treat customers of ALL backgrounds, call the store + make a complaint to the manager.” Alawa’s supporters have vowed, through Facebook comments, to call the store. Others say they could relate to her story.
“I was actually in another WHBM store about ten days ago when I was being ignored until I was way in the back and an elderly clerk walks by me and snarks that I must be very hot. I just smiled and say I am fine,” one commenter noted.
Among those calling on Alawa’s behalf was her own daughter, Laila, who called and spoke with a manager named Mindy, according to Facebook. Mindy, Alawa reported, defended the behavior of the sales associate, Carisa, she wrote, adding that the manager “said that I was wrong for being offended, and that I had a responsibility to ‘explain’ to Carisa why I was feeling the way I did.
When Laila said she would post it on social media, Mindy continued to say that Carisa didn’t have a ‘mean bone in her body.