Air Force Pilot Sues Over Required Islamic Dress

Lt. Col. Martha McSally has filed suit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in an effort to overturn a U.S. policy requiring female military personnel to wear Islamic dress when off base in Saudi Arabia. McSally claims that the policy is unconstitutional as it discriminates against women and infringes on religious freedom by forcing women to abide by religious mandates that are not their own. McSally is also concerned that the policy jeopardizes her authority and forces her to give the impression that she supports the idea that men are dominant over women. Lt. Col. McSally was the first woman in history to fly a fighter jet in combat for the United States during the Desert Storm Operation in the 1990s. While in Saudi Arabia, female military are required to wear the chador, a black head-to-toe robe. Women are also not allowed to leave base unless escorted by a man and must ride in the back seat when traveling off base. Five U.S. Senators have opposed the policy for American female servicemembers in Saudi Arabia and have asked Rumsfeld to change the policy. The Central Command, however, continues to defend it claiming that the policy is beneficial to women.


Associated Press, 12/04/01

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