College Grants Religious Exception to Head-Cover Ban

After an Islamic rights organization complains, a Massachusetts school changes head-covering policy.

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What started with a bang has ended with a whimper. After banning face-covering clothing of any kind, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has stepped back from its all-inclusive ban and reshuffled. The school will allow religious exceptions to the policy. The original wording of the policy allowed only medical exceptions.

In an E-mail to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, George Humphrey, the school's vice president for college relations, said the wording of the school's ban had been changed, and he thanked the CAIR for its input. The council wrote a complaint letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission yesterday with the hopes that the EEOC would investigate the controversial policy.

"Based on a constructive dialogue with our extended community and an intensive review of safety and security measures with advisers, we have amended our identification policy," the college said in a statement released to the Boston Globe. "We will achieve our objective of campus security while allowing for a medical and/or religious accommodation."

The ban sparked controversy after it was implemented about two months after the arrest of a former College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences alumnus, who was charged with plotting terrorist strikes. The school denied that the incident had anything to do with the policy.

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