Muslim woman sues: Says police forced her to remove scarf

A Muslim woman is suing U.S. police, after she was ordered to remove a headscarf

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A Muslim woman is suing a Michigan police department, saying her rights were violated when she was ordered to remove a headscarf for a mugshot after her arrest.

Maha Aldhalimi was told that she was wanted for an unpaid parking violation. She says she was ordered to remove the headscarf, known as hijab, for a photo at the Dearborn Police Department last September.

Aldhalimi says she was crying while explaining that removing the scarf in front of male strangers would violate her religious beliefs. She says she finally agreed to remove it under threat.

Muslim women who wear the hijab, and other forms of veils do so in the view that it must be worn when in the presence of any men who are not family members.

Maha Aldhalimi told CBS: “I am scared to leave my house now, and if I see a police officer when I am driving somewhere, I start shaking uncontrollably and turn in the opposite direction.”

Now lawyers working for Aldhalimi say Dearborn police violated federal law by demanding she remove her veil.

In a statement, ADC-Michigan Director, attorney Fatina Abdrabboh told CBS: “We must not live in a society where the oppression of women or religious minorities can be condoned, especially when this violation is committed by the very entity charged with protecting them – the Dearborn Police Department.”

Lawyers for Aldhalimi filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Detroit federal court, accusing Dearborn police of violating federal law. The city declined to comment.

Dearborn has one of the largest populations of Arab-Americans in the country.

It is the latest in a succession of similar incidents another, also in the Dearborn Heights in Michigan involved a 27-year-old Muslim woman who said she was forced to remove her hijab following her arrest for driving on a suspended license.

On that occasion the woman says she requested a woman police officer, but was told none were available. A lawsuit was filed for this in January, seeking a change in policy and asking for training for officers surrounding sensitivity and diversity – the case is still pending.

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