RSL denies telling Muslim woman to leave over head scarf

UPDATE 11am: TEWANTIN Noosa RSL has rejected claims it told a Muslim woman she would have to leave the club for wearing a head scarf.

In a statement on the RSL's Facebook page this morning, chief executive Phil Stephenson said the woman at the centre of the furore had never actually complained about her treatment at the club and, on the night in question, appeared to have enjoyed herself there.

However, Mr Stephenson said he had personally investigated the claim, aired in Fairfax media today, and found it didn't "match out staff reports or the CCTV footage".

Mr Stephenson said the club, as an RSL, had a policy of men and women both being expected to remove their headwear, but that policy did not apply to people whose headwear served a religious or medical purpose.

In the recent case of an Australian-born Muslim woman, of Turkish origin who went to the club with friends for dinner while in Noosa for a national badminton competition, Mr Stephenson said she was asked if her head scarf was being worn for religious purposes.

Message from Phil StephensonCEO of Tewantin Noosa RSL & Citizens Memorial Club Inc The Tewantin Noosa RSL & Citizens...

Posted by Tewantin Noosa RSL on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"The lady was not asked to leave the club and the party actually went on to have an enjoyable visit as was relayed to the reception staff on the party's departure and this is also evident in the CCTV footage of the party throughout the various areas of the Club," Mr Stephenson says in his post.

"I have investigated the matter with the staff concerned, received written statements regarding the events and reviewed CCTV footage and believe the staff handled the matter appropriately.

"We have also taken the additional step of reinforcing this policy with our staff to ensure they have a clear understanding of the intent and implementation of this policy.

"The Club is not discriminatory in any way and it is not the Club's intention to relay any form of discrimination to its Members, visitors or guests. The Club is very multicultural in its membership base and staffing of the Club."

In comments attached to the post, dozens people have spoken out in support of the club and its handling of the issue.

"Good job RSL and good on the staff member for doing their job and asking them what it was, but also doing their job and allowing them to stay," commented Vince Lancaster.

"Seems like someone is trying to blow this out of proportions. Hope she enjoyed her meal."

One commenter, who initially weighed in against the club, even changed her tune once the RSL Club's version of events was made clear to her.

"I really think WW3 will begin with an internet rumour, dont you think? it is scary how fast news circulates the days and more often then not in the wrong waym" she said.

"Imagine if the woman at the club had indeed said there is nothing wrong with your head scarf and you are welcome but the news article states otherwise ... it makes you wonder about the media's agenda doesnt it?"


BRISBANE TIMES REPORT: AFTER a successful start to a national badminton competition, Hijran and her teammates thought a meal out together would be a nice way to celebrate.

However the Australian-born woman, of Turkish origin, was left embarrassed and upset when she was told she would have to leave an RSL in popular holiday spot Noosa for wearing a hijab.

Hijran, who asked that her surname be withheld, travelled to the Sunshine Coast with her Melbourne badminton club for the week-long Atalanta​ Jamboree competition against Australian and New Zealand teams.

On their first night, they had dinner at the Tewantin-Noosa RSL and Citizens Memorial Club.

Hijran said that, as she was lining up with a friend to order dinner, a woman came over and said, "Excuse me, can I ask what it is that you're wearing?"

Read more on the Brisbane Times.

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