California to pay $85000 to Muslim woman over forcibly removing hijab

Muslim woman awarded £65,000 after police pulled off her hijab

Kirsty Powell, who is an African-American Muslim, filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department in 2016, causing the department to change its policy regarding inmates wearing headscarves for religious reasons, Fox News reported.

The officers refused her request and ordered Powell to remove her hijab.

The police department has a duty to protect all people who are in their custodial care, and one of the policies that protects inmates is that certain items are not allowed to be retained by a prisoner while in custody. Powell was "forced to appear in a publicly available booking photo without her religious headwear", the lawsuit said.

"We commend Kirsty Powell for choosing to defend her right to religious freedom and taking action", said civil rights attorney Marwa Rifahie of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She had explained she wore it as part of her religious beliefs but they still took it off.

A Muslim woman based in Long Beach, California has been paid a N31.1 million ($85,000) settlement after a police officer forcefully removed her hijab.

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According to Rifahie, the settlement with the city also ensured that Long Beach would not publish Powell's mugshot, taken after the hijab had been removed from her head. The officers informed her that she was "not allowed to wear her hijab" and that they were "allowed to touch a woman", the lawsuit states.

'She felt that the male officers and male inmates had seen parts of her body that they should not have seen, according to her religious beliefs'.

Powell filed a lawsuit against the city's police department for violating her First Amendment rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

Now female officers are required to remove the headscarves of female inmates "when necessary for officer safety", and away from male officers and inmates, Long Beach assistant city attorney Monte Machit told the Los Angeles Times. The religious head covering would then be delivered back to the inmate.

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