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Muslim woman charges New York Police for forced removal of hijab

The lawsuit asserted that the police officers did not listen to her and instead said to Malkawi that the law requires her to remove her hijab for the photograph. Having no choice and fearing criminal charges further, Malkawi took off her hijab.

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A Muslim woman sues New York Police for the forced removal of hijab that she claimed was the violation of her right of religious freedom in her lawsuit.

A 42-year-old Muslim woman Ihsan Malkawi says she was distraught after being forced to remove her hijab for being photographed during custody on unfounded accusations.

The police forced her to remove her hijab despite her explaining to them that it’s not a fashion accessory but a religious obligation. She explained to them that she does not take it off for photographs or is seen without it by any male member outside her family.

The lawsuit asserted that the police officers did not listen to her and instead said to Malkawi that the law requires her to remove her hijab for the photograph. Having no choice, Malkawi removed her hijab and handed over to her the female police officers.

She said police returned her hijab the next day when her husband came to release her on bail.

She added that she spent 36 hours in jail without a hijab. “I just wanted them to respect my rights, but I felt like they didn’t care,” said Malkawi explaining her ordeal. From the first minute, I felt discriminated against,” she added.

She added that authorities gave her a half-sleeves shirt to wear instead of a full-sleeves shirt that the faith demands.

Read more: Ban on hijabs, turbans and kippahs: Canada’s secular law under fire

Now, on Wednesday, Malkawi and her attorney filed a civil rights lawsuit, arguing that Yonkers Police department New York violated her religious rights. They sought the removal of the department’s condition that forces arrestees to remove the religious head covering while in custody.

“It is unacceptable that the City of Yonkers would cling to a policy that degrades and humiliates Muslim women, and others by forcing them to remove their head covering against their sincerely held religious beliefs. This policy is illegal,” said Malkawi’s legal counsel Ahmed Mohamed.

However, this is not the first case of officials forcing Muslim women to remove their hijabs. Several women in New York have reported that they were discriminated against for their headscarves.

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