A Muslim soldier was ‘spiritually raped’ by an officer who asked her to remove hijab, an advocacy group has said.
Sergeant Cesilia Valdovinos, 26, says she was left ‘feeling naked’ after Command Sergeant Major Kerstin Montoya ordered her to remove her head-covering during suicide prevention training on March 6.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an anti-prejudice group, likened Montoya’s actions to a spiritual assault on the servicewoman.
In a statement posted on the MRFF website, spokesman Mikey Weinstein said: ‘This rips asunder good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion.
‘It also serves up a “public relations bonanza for our Islamic extremist enemies” who wish to paint the war on terror as a war on Islam or a clash of world religions.’
When Valdovinos complained to a Muslim colleague, who told her she should not have been asked to remove the head covering, which is permitted under Army rules.
She told the Army Times: ‘To me, it was the same thing as if they had asked someone to take their top off.’
An Army spokesman said that Valdovinos was singled out for failing to have her hair up in a reglation bun under the headscarf.
The soldier insists she was wearing her hair in the correct style, and that it only came loose as she removed her headscarf.