A Muslim woman filed a lawsuit today against the city of Dearborn, alleging that police forced her to remove her Islamic headscarf after she was arrested on a parking violation.
Maha Aldhalimi of Wayne County said that a police officer arrested her after spotting her in a no-parking zone outside a Wal-Mart store in Dearborn. After checking her license and registration, the officer said she “had a warrant for her arrest for an unpaid parking violation.”
The officer then took her to the police station and ordered her to remove her headscarf, known as hijab, for her booking photo, the lawsuit said.
Aldhalimi said she started crying and explained to the male officers that she could not remove it because it would violate her religious beliefs. Her son, who had arrived at the police station, also told the officers that she could not remove it for religious reasons.
Observant Muslim women who wear hijab believe that their hair can only be exposed to women or men who are their family relatives; it’s part of an overall code of dressing modestly that they say is required in Islam.
The officers ignored Aldhalimi’s concerns and ordered her “to remove her hijab or it would be removed involuntarily against her will,” the lawsuit said.
Aldhalimi said she “was shivering and crying from the humiliation and distress of the encounter and orders.”
Reluctantly, she then removed the headscarf.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit by Troy attorney Shereef Akeel, and attorneys Fatina Abdrabboh and Reem Subei with the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
The lawsuit is the latest case involving Muslim women in Michigan who say they are forced to remove their hijab by police or to seek services. Other women who wear hijab have complained about how they are treated by Dearborn Police.
Separate lawsuits were filed this year on behalf of Muslim women wearing hijab against Dearborn Heights Police and Oceana County Sheriff. Dearborn Heights Police said in a court filing this year that they have the right to remove a hijab for security reasons.
The city of Dearborn did not comment on the lawsuit, saying it had not yet been served with it. The city also did not comment on their policies on how they treat Muslim women who wear hijab when they are in police custody.