OC settles with ACLU to allow head scarves for Muslim defendants

After six years of litigation, Orange County settled a religious discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of a Muslim woman who was forced to remove her traditional head scarf while she was in a courthouse holding cell, the ACLU announced today.

Orange County officials will no longer require Muslim women in custody to remove their head scarf, known as a hijab, said attorney Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Said plaintiff Souhair Khatib of Anaheim: “I praise Allah and thank Him that I live in a country where I can practice my religion freely. While not everyone understands Islam or what it requires of me, I’m grateful that the U.S. government protects my right to fulfill my duty to Allah, whether at work, on a public street or, yes, even in a sheriff’s holding facility.”

Law enforcement officers will be trained about ordering Muslim women to remove hijabs, and the county will pay $85,000 in damages, fees and court costs.

Los Alamitos Patch, 13 February 2013