On Saturday, September 28, a Muslim woman reported to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) that she was physically escorted out of the Chisholm Baptist Church for attending the Annual Hibbing Area Women’s Retreat.
CAIR-MN says it will pursue legal options if any federal or state anti-discrimination laws were violated.
The 16th annual event, featuring anti-Muslim speaker Cynthia Khan, was publicized as a public event. An article in the Hibbing Daily Tribune stated that “all area women are invited.”
The Muslim woman, who wears a headscarf (hijab), was initially welcomed to the event by organizers. She completed the registration, paid the entrance fee and was given a nametag. As she was entering the auditorium, Khan approached event volunteers and asked that they remove the Muslim woman.
When the Muslim woman explained that she was only there to listen and would not interrupt the speech or disrupt the event, Khan said she did not want a Muslim in the audience. Khan told her that videos and materials “offensive” to Muslims will be shown and distributed during her talk.
Despite her objections to the unfair treatment due to her religion, the Muslim woman was physically escorted outside by event volunteers.
“The retreat organizers engaged in discrimination when they denied a Muslim woman from participating in the event, while opening it up to the rest of the public,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “We ask all community leaders in the area to repudiate the unfair treatment.”
Past hosts of the Annual Hibbing Area Women’s Retreat have been Blessed Sacrament Church, Holy Trinity Lutheran, First Assembly of God, First Lutheran Church, Grace Lutheran, Hibbing Alliance, Wesley Methodist, Open Door, Our Savior’s Church and St. Michael’s Orthodox Church.
In March 2012, two Muslim students in Perham, Minnesota were forced to leave an event for questioning the speaker’s anti-Islam bigotry. The speaker, Walid Shoebat, is a notorious Islamophobe who claims “Islam is the devil.”
CAIR press release, 29 September 2013