Muslim Women Get $60,000 After Being Forced to Remove Hijab for Mugshot

New directives were put into effect from 2015 regarding religious headgear.

Three Muslim women will get a collective payout of $180,000 from New York City. The windfall was a result of lawsuits being settled in the federal court of Brooklyn after law enforcement forced the three to take off their hijabs while taking their police mugshots. Each woman received $60,000.

The first of the three cases go back to 2012. The concerned woman, who for security reasons was identified only as “G.E” was arrested after she got into a physical fight with two other schoolgirls from Brooklyn. She fought with them as she believed that the two were engaged in spreading rumors concerning her. G.E was subsequently hauled off to the police station where she was instructed to take off her hijab prior to her photo being taken. She refused. The girl was then taken to a private room. The mugshot was taken by a female officer. No male police officers were present.

The problem began when G.E was taken to Brooklyn Central Booking. The police said they cannot accommodate the religious needs of the girl. The officers present told her female officers were not available. The mugshot can only be taken in a public room as the camera is in a fixed spot. G.E alleged that a male officer then took her photograph sans her hijab. This made her feel distraught, exposed and violated. She was not wearing her Islamic clothes for about 20 minutes.

The New York police later issued a new order in 2015. The new directives amended policies concerning individuals who do not want to take off religious head coverings. The new laws stated that officers who had performed the arrest must tell the person who was taken into custody that the police department provides a choice of the individual to be photographed in a private room. The individual can request same-gender personnel, but must remove the head garb.

Tahanie Aboushi, the lawyer who represented G.E also handled the other two cases in 2015 and 2016 at Brooklyn Central Booking. One woman said her hijab was removed while she lay unconscious after her neighbor knocked her out over a common parking spot. The spokesperson of the Law Department described its satisfaction over the resolution of the matter.

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