US Muslims jailed for failing to remove hijab in court

Lisa ValentineA Douglasville woman was jailed Tuesday after a judge found her in contempt of court for refusing to remove her hijab, the head covering worn by Muslim women.

Lisa Valentine, also known by her Islamic name, Miedah, 40, was arrested at the Douglasville Municipal Court for violating a court policy of no headgear, said Chris Womack, deputy chief of operations for the Douglasville police. Judge Keith Rollins ordered her held in jail for 10 days, but she was released Tuesday evening. The reason for the early release wasn’t immediately clear. “It was very humiliating, degrading,” Valentine said from her home Tuesday evening. “I wear my hijab faithfully and for no reason I was asked to take it off. It was unreal.”

Other Muslim women said the same judge has ordered them to remove their hijabs. Sabreen Abdul Rahman, 55, said she was asked to take off her scarf when she went to the municipal court last week with her son. “I can’t. I’m Muslim,” she mouthed silently to the bailiff, who then removed her from the courtroom, Rahman said. “This is a religious right,” she said. Halimah Abdullah, 43, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after Rollins held her in contempt of court for refusing to remove her head covering. Rollins could not be reached for comment.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 December 2008

See also CAIR press release, 16 December 2008

Update:  See Selene Kaye’s post on the ACLU blog, “A call to action for women of all beliefs“.