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Military School Denies Muslim Student's Request to Wear Headscarf

FILE - Citadel cadets march in formation at the military college in Charleston, S.C.

A U.S. military college has denied a request by a newly admitted Muslim student to wear a religious head covering along with her uniform.

The Citadel, a public military school in South Carolina, said last month it was considering the request by the woman, who was admitted to the Class of 2020, to wear the hijab.

In a statement Tuesday, Citadel president retired Lt. Gen John Rosa announced that after "considerable review," the request was denied.

"Uniformity is the cornerstone of this four-year leader development model," he said in the statement. He added that the "standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions and privileges" is essential as students relinquish their individuality and learn to function as a team.

The statement adds that the school "recognizes the importance of a cadet’s spiritual and religious beliefs" and makes accommodations for prayer and dietary needs.

In comments to The Washington Post, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that not granting any religious accommodation was a bar to any practicing Muslim and was unacceptable at a public institution.

"There are Muslim women wearing hijab in our nation's military," he said in comments reported by the newspaper.

"To cling to these outdated 'traditions' merely out of a sense of not wanting to change anything is, I think, untenable in this day and age and in our increasingly diverse society."