The company that handles security for the Pepsi Center is pushing back against accusations of “blatant ‘racial’ profiling” (what ‘race’ is Islam?) put forward by Gazella Bensreiti. There’s been an unexpected twist in the story of a metro Denver Muslim woman who says she faced anti-Muslim discrimination after being stopped at a Colorado Pepsi Center entrance because of her hijab.
Westword Argus, the company that handles security for the Pepsi Center (below), is defending the actions of its employee and has released security footage of the incident.
On Facebook, Bensreiti wrote that “upon entering the Pepsi Center on November 5th, a woman named Dorothea put her hand to my face and told me that I would have to ‘take that thing off’ of my head. I told her that I would not take it off due to religious reasons. I explained to her that it was my hijab and that I would not be taking it off, to which she responded, ‘I don’t care, you can’t come in with it on.’ I then asked if she’d be willing to take me to the side so that I could remove it and show her my entire head in private. Again, she told me no.'”
Dorothea then went into an office and came out and waved to me to go ahead through, without making eye contact or even acknowledging me as a human being, but ushered me like an animal.” Bensreiti was subsequently told that her tickets weren’t ready, and after sitting in her car and crying, she returned to the venue at 5:30 p.m. to retrieve them — and afterward, she said, the woman who had denied her entry “began berating me and yelling at me” before the employee’s manager took charge and listened to her complaints. In her words, “He was cordial and left me alone after that.”
The Argus statement shared by president/CEO Dave Brower begins like so: “Argus is aware of a guest interaction with an Argus employee which took place on November 5th at the Pepsi Center. Argus would like to clarify the facts pertaining to the interaction. Our employee is a 71 year old African-American woman who has worked for Argus for 14 years and until this incident never once had been accused of discrimination, profiling or harassment. The patron repeatedly pointed to our employee and another Argus colleague while calling them racists. Argus stands behind our employee.”
“Our employee was performing her job duties consistent with Pepsi Center and league security screening protocols. She did not recognize the headwear worn by the patron as a hijab (because it sure doesn’t look like a hijab). Once notified by the patron of her religious headwear, our employee immediately sought guidance from her supervisor, who allowed the patron to enter without removal of her hijab.
In his view, “there has been significant misinformation communicated about this event. To be clear, at no point was our employee motivated by religious or racial bias. She too has been traumatized by the interaction and has a 14 year employment history with Argus working multiple venues without a single patron complaint. It goes without saying, that Argus is committed to treating all guests equally regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation.”
He adds that “Argus has reached out to the Muslim woman to discuss the matter in greater detail, but she has not responded to our request.”
Bensreiti concluded her Facebook post about the incident by asserting that “I have never experienced this type of trauma in my entire life…. Not only did she traumatize me and my daughter, she infringed upon my civil rights.” (as she no doubt was coached by CAIR to say)
Gadeir Abbas, a CAIR attorney working with Bensreiti contends “The fact that the employee who did this is a veteran security screener makes the incident even more concerning, rather than less,” by telling Muslims that they are not welcome.”
The Muslim woman enters at around 01:10 (no audio)