26 Jan 2015

This Muslim Woman is Suing Cops for Violating Her First Amendment Rights During a Routine Arrest

A Muslim woman is suing the Dearborn Heights police department for allegedly violating her First Amendment rights.
Malak Kazan, 27, of Dearborn Heights was pulled over by police and arrested for having a suspended license. While she was being booked, she was forced to remove her hijab. She was told she could not wear the head scarf while being processed and while in custody.
Muslim women must wear their hijab in public and in front of men who are not closely related to her. Because Kazan was forced to remove her head scarf, she feels she was humiliated and violated.
In forcing Kazan to remove her head scarf, she claims that the police department violated her right to religious freedom. ABC 7 reports:
“The main issue here is that my client’s constitutional rights, her religious liberties, can’t be stripped at the jailhouse door. She has an absolute right to maintain her faith,” Kazan’s attorney Amir Makledsaid. “We hope this cause of action will bring to light a policy that is dated and needs to be amended. … We also hope to get some further diversity training for officers in the city. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for other law enforcement agencies.”
Kazan is taking the lawsuit before a federal judge who will determine if her rights were violated:
“wearing a head scarf 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,” the lawsuit said. “To have her hair and neck uncovered in public … is … deeply humiliating, violating, and defiling experience.”
The Dearborn Heights police department did not have enough female officers on hand to accommodate Kazan and were therefore forced to compel her to remove her hijab according to the department’s safety protocols. ABC 7 reports:
“Articles such as hats, caps, hijabs, can contain concealable items that could pose a threat or chance of injury to the cops or to themselves,” Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Garvin said.
“Our procedure is to have them take the hijab off in the presence of a female… We don’t always have enough female officers present in the station. Our Number one concern is security of our officers and the prisoners.” Garvin said. 
This lawsuit brings up an interesting concern over what is more important: the rights of the accused or the rights of law enforcement to do their jobs and protect themselves.


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