One Norman man is pushing to see the image of a hijab-clad woman removed from the Pioneer Library System vehicles. He said the image has no place on a government vehicle, because it promotes Islam and is therefore unconstitutional.
“How can they promote Islam on the side of a public vehicle in Norman Oklahoma,” Chad Grensky said. “I don’t understand it. It makes me sick. I’m not anti-Muslim. Our tax paying dollars fund these vehicles and they feel the need to promote Islam on the side of these cars. And that’s not right.”
Pioneer Library System Executive Director Ann Masters said the library chain has 11 vehicles featuring different representations of the library customer base. She said the images used reflect the diverse customer base the library serves and in no way promotes religion.
Masters said Grensky has left messages with her and she is planning on getting in touch with him to discuss it.
“We have 11 vehicles and they all have some kind of wrap with a different representation of a customer. Some have children. Some have senior citizens. Some have white people. Some have black people. The one [Grensky] is referring to has a Middle Eastern person who may be Muslim. Our effort was to make the images on our vehicles representative of our entire service area. This certainly isn’t pushing religion. And I don’t know that it actually even represents someone of that religion, but we were simply trying to represent all of our customers.”
Oklahoma City Imam Imad Enchassi said the notion that an image of a woman in a hijab promotes Islam over other religions is ridiculous and indicative of Islamophobia’s grip on the American psyche.
For starters, he said the fact that the woman is Arab and wearing a hijab doesn’t necessarily mean she is of the Muslim faith.
He said she could be an orthodox Jew or an orthodox Christian and the assumptions all point back to Islamophobia in America.
“It’s not a secret that Islamophobia is at an all-time high,” Enchassi said. “The political rhetoric that is coming out of the mouths of politicians has amplified it to a dangerous level.
“In America, we pride ourselves on liberty and justice for all and equality and yet, when a Muslim woman wants to practice her form of expression, her form of modesty, it’s looked down upon.”
Grensky said he has been contacted by the Norman Police Department and said the chief of police determined that he was not a threat.
“I told them wow, I must be someone real special,” Grensky said. “I just want to see it gone. Put all religions on every car or none. Equality across the board. There are zero cars that display Jews, Christians, or Catholics.”
Grensky said the issue isn’t about Islam or race, but the concept of separation of church and state.
“If you want to put somebody that’s of Middle Eastern descent that’s fine, but when we cross that line into faith we have a problem,” he said.
Despite Grensky’s protest, Masters said there are no plans in place to remove the image.
“The text says ‘Good things coming my way.’ That’s the text on all of them,” Masters said. “The pictures are there to make them more interesting to look at and communicate the library’s story.”