US police forced Muslim woman to remove hijab following arrest, rights group says

US police forced Muslim woman to remove hijab following arrest, rights group says
A Muslim woman was forced to remove her hijab after she was arrested by Ferndale police in Detroit, according to the Council on American Islamic (CAIR) relations.
2 min read
16 September, 2021
The Muslim woman was reportedly 'forced' to remove her hijab [Getty]

A Muslim rights group is launching a lawsuit against Ferndale police in Detroit, US, following claims the department forcibly removed a Muslim woman’s hijab before taking a photograph during the booking process.

“We’re imploring the city of Ferndale … to take our claim seriously and open channels of dialogue with us so we can ensure Muslim women who find themselves engaged with police officers in the boundaries of the city are sure to have their constitutional rights in place,” Amy Doukoure, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan Chapter, told the Detroit News.

A woman called Helene Bowe made the claim. She was allegedly stopped by police officers for expired license plates.

According to the publication, the woman in question presented insurance and registration which disputed the police officer’s allegations. Officers asked if she had a weapon, and she said she had an electric stun gun in her purse.

She was arrested shortly after this, and it is unknown if she had a concealed weapons permit.

Bowe was taken to the police station, and a male officer made her remove her hijab for the photo.

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This isn’t the first time police officers in the state of Michigan faced a lawsuit over forcing a Muslim woman to remove her hijab.

Last year, a woman called Zainab Chaaban filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Detention Centre alleging that police officers threatened to make her sleep on a cement floor without a blanket and pillow if she didn’t remove her hijab for the booking photo.

“I felt vulnerable. I felt exposed. I felt violated,” Chaaban told Free Press.

"There’s a lack of awareness about the religious tenets of Islam and a lack of sensitivity," said CAIR-MI staff attorney Amy Doukoure at the time.

"People need to understand. ... It's not just hair. It’s more than hair," said Doukoure, adding the hijab is part of a "deeply held religious belief."

Despite anti-discrimination laws across the country, lawsuits of this type are growing.