They made her take off her hijab for security reasons, but who cares about security when Muslim practices must be accommodated?
“Muslim defendant can sue over hijab removal,” by Bob Egelko for the San Francisco Chronicle, March 16 (thanks to all who sent this in):
SAN FRANCISCO — A law guaranteeing religious freedom to prisoners applies to a courthouse holding cell where sheriff’s deputies ordered a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 11-0 decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit by Souhair Khatib against Orange County, where officers made her take off her hijab for security reasons while she was held in the cell to await a court hearing.
The law, passed by Congress in 2000, prohibits the government from imposing a “substantial burden” on prisoners’ religious practices unless officials can show a compelling need for the restrictions.
The Obama administration joined Khatib in arguing that the law applied to courthouse holding cells.…
The court returned the case to a federal judge to decide whether the deputies interfered with Khatib’s religious freedom without a compelling security need. Becky Kieffer, a lawyer for Khatib, said federal prisons allow Muslim women to wear approved headscarves and that the county should follow their practice.
The county could also appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Khatib and her husband pleaded guilty in 2006 to a misdemeanor welfare crime, which Kieffer said involved receiving overpayments. They were placed on probation and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service apiece.
When they went to court to ask for an extension of the community service deadline, a judge revoked their probation and put them in holding cells, where deputies ordered Khatib to remove her hijab.
She stayed in the cell most of the day, trying to cover her head with her vest. When she was brought into court, the judge extended the deadline and restored her probation.
Khatib says her religion forbids her to expose her head or neck to men outside her immediate family. She sued the county for damages.