All for Wearing a Hijab

July 2, 2009

Author: Ben Eisen

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Slma Shelbayah always wanted to be a Middle East television analyst. Now the former Georgia State University doctoral student and visiting instructor at the university's Middle East Institute is finding herself in the media for a different reason -- discrimination against her because of her Middle Eastern background.

Georgia State University is coming under scrutiny after the head of its Middle East Institute stepped down Wednesday, asserting in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that both she and Shelbayah had been mistreated after an incident of racism. Dona Stewart, who is also a tenured professor of geography, alleges that after Shelbayah was harassed by a professor for wearing a traditional Islamic hijab, they were both subjected to a bout of hostile actions by the university. The EEOC is currently evaluating separate but related complaints filed by Shelbayah in November and Stewart in January.