By TODD VENEZIA
A Muslim woman has accused a New Jersey shopping mall security guard of trying to force her to remove her head-covering garment.
“He came into my face and made a hand gesture like he was going to lift my veil off,’ ” Wakeelah Salaam, 30, told The Post of her ordeal at the Bridgewater Commons Mall last Saturday. “I felt like he was going to do something. I didn’t feel safe in the mall.”
The US-born Salaam said the confrontation happened about 10 minutes after she entered the mall with her two young sons. She was wearing a Muslim veil known as a niqab, which covered her entire head and face except for her eyes.
“I was passing the Apple store when he got in my face. He said, ‘This is a private place. You can’t wear that in here,’ ” Salaam said.
Salaam said that after she was approached by the guard, she called her sister who told her to seek out a supervisor.
But another guard told her no supervisor was available and she was “overreacting” and “out of line.”
Then, the first guard accosted her again, she said. “He told me, ‘I don’t know who you are, and I need you to take that off.’ ”
Salaam said she felt like a “victim” and was embarrassed in front of her boys, ages 5 and 12.
She dialed 911 and left after meeting with police.
“They humiliated me, the way they made me feel. I went home and cried for over an hour,” she said.
Salaam said she was particularly shocked because she has been wearing her niqab in public for years without a problem, including court appointments.
And, she’s even worn it to Bridgewater Commons before. “I would never go back to that mall. I know [the guard]doesn’t live under a rock, so [he]knows what a Muslim woman wears,” she said
The mall later issued an apology and said the guard had been sent to diversity training. “We respect her right to dress according to her religious beliefs and she is welcome in our mall anytime,” a mall official said.