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Law Enforcement Force Women To Remove Hijabs For Mugshots

Three women have filed a civil lawsuit against Dallas County, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, and the individual officers involved, saying their religious garments were unlawfully removed for mugshot photos, reports The 19th News. In January, after a protest demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Tamera Hutcherson was arrested alongside two other women wearing hijabs, Donia El-Hussain and Nidaa Lafi. They were escorted to take a mugshot and were told, by a male officer, to remove their hijabs. They tried to explain that she wore her hijab — a head covering — for religious reasons but were ignored.

The federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, established in 2000, says the government can’t “impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution.” However, its interpretation varies across jurisdictions regarding religious head coverings. As the three women filed suit on March 28 , their lawyer, Huma Yasin, the lawyer representing El-Hussain, Hutcherson, and Lafi, said she hoped the legal action prompts policy changes. “The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to so many religions, not just Muslims. We have a very diverse population, and for religious liberties to be curtailed in this manner is frankly unacceptable.”  Yasin said this issue of law enforcement policy and religious liberty impacts more than just Muslim women. It may also be impacting Catholic clergy who sometimes wear veils, Jewish people who might cover their heads with yarmulke or tichel, and Sikhs who wear turbans — all for religious reasons.


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