Asked to leave the mall: Muslim garment or video recording to blame?

Asked to leave the mall: Muslim garment or video recording to blame? »Play Video
Mohammed Iqbal talks Tuesday, July 23, 2013, about his interaction with a security guard at Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield, Calif.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Mohammed Iqbal is a man who wears a hijab, a traditional Muslim head garment worn by women.

"My friends and I just wanted to see what it would be like to be a Muslim girl," Iqbal said Tuesday.

He said it's a social experiment of sorts; a way to measure and record the reactions of onlookers through pictures and video.

"I wanted to know how it was for them, like what they have to go through every day," he said.

Iqbal wore his hijab to Bakersfield's Valley Plaza Mall on Monday and started recording. When security saw what was going on, they asked him to leave.

“They told us to take our mask off,” said Iqbal, “and we told them it was a religious thing, and they told us we needed to get off the property and escorted us out of the mall and told us to get off the property. A mall this big that has a rule like that, that we can’t be in there, then nothing can be done about it."

A Valley Plaza official said the reason Iqbal was asked to leave had nothing to do with what he was wearing.

Mall policy does not allow filming on the premises. Eyewitness News even had to conduct the interview with Iqbal on the sidewalk by the mall, not inside.

Statement from Valley Plaza:

“Valley Plaza is a family-friendly mall and all shoppers are welcome. Unfortunately we must operate within the guidelines of processes and procedures set by our corporate office. Anyone seeking to video tape or film on property, must first obtain permission from the management office. To my understanding, the individual in question was asked to stop filming because he did not receive permission from mall management. Any and all mall policies are in place to facilitate an enjoyable shopping atmosphere and experience for all Valley Plaza shoppers.”
               
Iqbal said he was targeted for what he was wearing, not for what he was recording. 

"It's embarrassing, in a way, because people were looking at me like I stole something, or something, and security was walking me out, and I didn't do anything wrong,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal and his friends said they plan to conduct this experiment again, somewhere else. Next time, they will all wear hijabs.