A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Dearborn and its police officers by a Muslim woman forced to remove her hijab when arrested for driving on a suspended license.
USA Today reported that the lawsuit was filed on Thursday in federal court. Malak Kazan, 27, is asking that the Dearborn Heights, Michigan Police Department modify its existing policy so that Muslim women can were their headscarves during the booking process.
When Kazan was taken into custody last July for her suspended license, the male officer taking her booking photo asked her to remove her hijab. According to department policy, no head covers or hats should be on a person when the photo is taken. Kazan protested because her faith required her to cover her hair and neck in the presence of non-family men.
She said she had requested a female officer take her photo. According to the lawsuit, the male officer refused. After talking to his supervisor, he was told to proceed as usual.
“It was such an uncomfortable feeling,” Kazan said. “I’ve worn my scarf for 12 years and my religion says I can’t take it off. It’s not just a religious issue, this is part of me. It’s my culture, my life and my identity. ”
The lawsuit said or Kazan, “wearing a headscarf is a reminder of her faith, the importance of modesty in her religion as well as a symbol of her own control over who may see the more intimate parts of her body. To have her hair and neck uncovered in public is deeply humiliating, violating, and defiling experience.”
It claims that Kazan’s constitutional rights to free expression of religion under the 1st, 4th and 14th amendments were violated.
Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko and Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Gavin have not returned requests for comment on the incident and lawsuit.
According to USA Today, the lawsuit is the latest filed in recent months involving Arab-American Muslim residents in Dearborn Heights who say that police and school officials are biased. Last year, the Crestwood School District in Dearborn Heights reached a settlement with the Department of Justice over concerns that it discriminated against Arab Americans.