The Citadel Military College Denies Muslim Student’s Request to Wear Hijab

May 14, 2016 Updated: May 14, 2016

A South Carolina military college has rejected a woman’s request to wear a hijab, an Islamic-style head scarf, according to reports this week.

The Muslim student is now considering legal action against the Citadel, a public military college run by the state of South Carolina. The student had requested an exception to the required uniform to keep her head covered.

The Summerall Guards at the Citadel (Public Domain)
The Summerall Guards at the Citadel (Public Domain)

In a statement, the college’s president, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, said, “As the Military College of South Carolina, the Citadel has relied upon a highly effective educational model requiring all cadets to adopt a common uniform.”

The college has previously made accommodations for prayer and diets based on religion. However, changing the uniform is a line the Citadel won’t cross, he added.

He said, “Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model,” reported the New York Times.

A spokesman for the family, Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Tuesday that the unnamed student won’t attend the college as she had been denied her religious rights. Hooper said the student was left heartbroken and crying when she learned of the decision.


“We just can’t leave an unconstitutional, and frankly un-American, policy to stand,” he said.

Rosa said he hopes the student will attend the Citadel.

According to ABC News:

Students at the Citadel are required to wear a standard buttoned-up uniform at almost all times, keep cropped haircuts and follow rules laid out in a 35-page booklet on military protocols. Many students and alumni have said uniformity and discipline are important and spoke out against possibly allowing an exception for the Muslim student.

As of April 2016, there were three Muslim students enrolled in the college, a Citadel spokesperson said. Muslim students, she added, have been attending the institution for years.