Two women wearing hijabs were denied entry to Vice President Kamala Harris’s January 27 early voting rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. Video footage taken by the women, who reportedly RSVPed and received wristbands at check-in, shows campaign officials barring them from entering. Officials declined to explain their decision and are seen allowing other individuals to enter. The women say they felt targeted because they are Muslim. Their video and a screenshot of the initial email invitation are being circulated on social media by the group Nevadans for Palestinian Liberation (NPL).
On January 30, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a press release requesting clarification on the situation. The release quoted CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw as saying, “The American people deserve to know whether these women were profiled and barred from an event featuring Vice President Harris because they were visibly Muslim.”
CAIR also cited its civil rights data detailing, “3,578 complaints during the last three months of 2023 amid an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate… represent[ing] a 178 percent increase in incoming complaints in the last three months of 2023 compared to a similar period the previous year.”
A few hours after CAIR’s press release, Taylor R. Avery of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the story. She included a statement from a Biden-Harris campaign aide alleging the women had disrupted former events with Democratic officials and it is policy to disinvite such individuals. The article went on to state, “Earlier this month, pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted an event at which Sen. Jacky Rosen was speaking. One of those individuals were blocked from attending Saturday’s event, according to the aide.”
NPL made their own statement in response to the Biden-Harris campaign’s claims, pointing out that the women did not attend the event together but were grouped together because of their hijabs. Other NPL members not wearing hijabs were reportedly allowed to enter.
Identifying herself only by the initial A., one of the women turned away said: “At an event championing women’s rights, I was targeted by the Biden-Harris team because I am a hijabi woman. I have never disrupted a political event in my life and any insinuation of me doing so is categorically inaccurate. I voted for Biden and Harris in 2020 because I thought they stood with the Muslim community against hate. The violence of the Muslim ban is not just through Trump’s administration; Biden and Harris implemented a domestic Muslim ban that day by not allowing hijabis into their events. With what happened, I know I will not be voting for Democrats this election.”
On January 31, on The Hill’s The Rising, host Briahna Joy Gray highlighted the media’s failure to cover the incident, citing a January 24 NBC article about the Biden campaign’s approach to managing increasing numbers of pro-Palestine protestors at events. The NBC article discussed how volunteers are being trained to identify potential protestors, according to officials, “though they are not able to stop them from attending… At Tuesday’s event in Virginia, for instance, volunteers noticed attendees with pins alluding to their message on the Israel-Hamas war, which allowed officials to be on alert.”
In her remarks, Gray speculated that concerns about pro-Palestine protestors informed the Harris campaign decision to disinvite the hijabi women in Las Vegas. However, it goes against officials’ claims to allow, “critics of Biden’s policies to freely express their views, but not to the extent that overwhelms campaign events or blocks supporters from attending.”
Ibrahim Hooper, “CAIR Asks VP Harris to Clarify Why Two Muslim Women in Hijab Were Barred from Nevada Event,” CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), January 30, 2024.
Taylor R. Avery, Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Viral Video Shows Women Barred From Harris Event,” January 30, 2024.
Briahna Joy Gray and Robby Soave, The Hill, “Harris Staffers Discriminated Against Muslim Women by Barring Them From Campaign Event: Protestors,” January 31, 2024.
Student Researcher: Nicole Mendez-Villarrubia (North Central College)
Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)