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In Theory: Freedom of religion at Disneyland

August 27, 2010

A female Muslim worker at Disneyland, Imane Boudlal, made headlines by becoming embroiled in a dispute with her employer about whether she could wear her hijab, an Islamic head scarf, to her job as a hostess at the amusement park. Boudlal, who has filed a discrimination complaint against Disneyland, was sent home Tuesday for the eighth time after she rejected a third alternative head covering provided by her employer, according to press reports. Disneyland, which has a strict dress code for its employees, had also reportedly offered Boudlal four other assignments that would have allowed her to wear her hijab. Do you think that Boudlal's case for freedom of religious expression in the workplace is a legitimate one, or do you think that the House that the Mouse Built has been wrongly vilified in this controversy?

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Conservative Islam is one of the few religions that require specific dress in public, which, few can argue, that when it is "in public" there's not a problem with it. Disneyland is privately owned and hence, can make what dress rules they want. Does one think that Imane Boudlal can walk into a Hooters and demand to wear her hijab at work?

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Bruce Gleason

Director, Freethought Alliance

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This is a wonderful example of cross-cultural challenges. In a post-modern world such circumstances challenge our customs and require us to figure out ways to accommodate this kind of diversity. It seems that Disney is trying to accommodate this young woman, but the house and the mouse are divided. It must be difficult for Disney to consider changing a dress code that is basically Midwest vanilla to a middle Eastern curry. I suggest that they compare this woman to the living example of "It's a small world after all" and help the people who visit the park see an Epcott-like spirit instead of a "town without pity."

Dr. Jim Turrell

Center for Spiritual Living Newport-Mesa

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