Thursday, 17 June 2021

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Forced to remove hijab during arrest, Black Lives Matter protester demands accountability

By By Sheren Khalel, For The Middle East Monitor, On 24 June 2020, Read Original
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Alaa Massri says she was forced to take off her hijab for hours after she was arrested in Miami earlier this month.

A Muslim American woman who was forced to remove her hijab for a police mugshot says her constitutional rights were breached and is demanding that the officers involved be investigated.

Alaa Massri, 18, was arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Miami, Florida, on 10 June after skirmishes broke out between demonstrators and police.

Massri said she was handcuffed and taken to the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation centre, where she was forced have her booking photo taken without her head covering.

She was then left without her hijab for seven hours, while the photos were made available to "countless media" outlets, some of which published her photos online.

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"We are committed to ensuring that individual’s faith-based beliefs and practices are respected and will review this incident to ensure compliance with our policies and this commitment," the department added. 

But Omar Saleh, a staff attorney at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Florida, said that a policy requiring someone to take off their religious head covering for booking photographs violates several laws protecting religious freedoms, adding that if Massri chose to do so, she would have grounds to file a civil case against the department. 

While there are narrow exceptions concerning security that would allow the scarf to be taken off in private for a search, what happened to Massri seems to have exceeded the allowed procedures, Saleh told Middle East Eye.

"If the facts are as we hear they are, then we believe that this is a constitutional violation. 

"It's not just the First and Fourteenth Amendments, there's also the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act that bars government from restricting a woman's ability to practice hijab when they're confined in an institution, and that includes jail," he said. 

"It's one thing to remove the hijab in the course of the arrest, pre-booking photo, to clear security and then give the hijab back for the booking photo", but prohibiting Massri from wearing her hijab for hours during detention goes well beyond that scope, he added.

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READ FULL ARTICLE: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/united-states-black-lives-matter-protester-forced-remove-hijab-police

 

 

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