Nashville Muslim sues over violation of religious rights

A Muslim man is suing a security company, claiming his religious rights were violated when its guards demanded he remove his cap before entering Nashville’s Juvenile Justice Center.

Rashid al-Qadir claims security guards violated his First Amendment right to the free exercise of his religion by telling him he could not wear the small, brimless cap called a kufi. Al-Qadir says he offered to remove the kufi for inspection but then wanted to put it back on. The guards refused and demanded he leave the building.

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc. do not dispute al-Qadir’s account of the April 11, 2011, events. Instead, they argue the suit should be dismissed because al-Qadir cannot prove his claim that the guards were acting on behalf of the government.

Al-Qadir initially asked the federal court for an emergency order that would allow him to enter the Juvenile Justice Center, where he was fighting a child custody dispute. Two weeks later, the juvenile courthouse adopted a policy allowing religious headwear to be worn in the building once it had been inspected.

“I’m an American. I was born in America, and I’m going to be treated like an American,” al-Qadir said in an interview. “I have a right to practice my religion freely as long as I’m not hurting anyone, and a kufi is not going to hurt anybody.”

Associated Press, 30 August 2012