The Dearborn Police Department has been slapped with a lawsuit after a Muslim woman says that she was ordered to remove her hijab, or headscarf, for her booking photo after she was arrested. Maha Aldhalimi says her rights were violated after her arrest last September. While at the Dearborn Police Department, Aldhalimi said she was forced to remove her hijab in front of a man.
She says that she was crying and pleaded with the Dearborn Police Department not to violate her religious belief that she mustn’t remove the hijab in front of male strangers. She claims that she only removed the scarf under threat. Her lawyers filed her lawsuit in a federal court in Detroit, Michigan on Tuesday. Maha Aldhalimi was told that she was placed under arrest over an unpaid parking violation, according to WILX.
— Arab American News (@theaanews) July 1, 2015
Dearborn has one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States. Earlier this year, a similar event occurred at the neighboring Dearborn Heights Police Department. In January, 27-year-old Malak Kazan filed a federal lawsuit against that police department for the same reason. Kazan was arrested for a traffic misdemeanor, according to the Detroit News. Kazan also requested that a female take her photo, but her request was also denied. Police pointed out that a female officer is not always available.
These two are not alone. According to USA Today, several cases have been filed in the Detroit area on behalf of Muslim women. The women say that they should either be allowed to keep their hijab on or have female officers handle them, so that they are not in violation of their religious beliefs. Canton, Michigan lawyer Nabih Ayad has handled several cases where women were forced to remove their hijab and says that forcing Muslim women to remove their scarves in front of males is a constitutional violation.
“You have to respect the right to wear religious attire.”
Robert Sedler, a professor of constitutional issues at Wayne State University Law School also believes that these women’s rights have been violated. In Aldhalimi’s case, she says that after explaining the religious significance of the hijab to the Dearborn Police Department officers, she was still ordered “to remove her hijab or it would be removed involuntarily against her will.”
oppression is when someone is forced to wear the hijab and oppression is when someone is forced to take off their hijab — farzeen (@itsfarzeen) July 1, 2015
What do you think? Did the Dearborn Police Department violate Aldhalimi’s civil rights by forcing her to remove her hijab in front a male instead of providing a female officer?