US Muslim compensated with $85,000 after police forcibly removed hijab




CALIFORNIA: A Muslim woman was compensated with $85,000 after a police officer forcibly removed her hijab, or headscarf, while she was in police custody in Long Beach, California.

In 2015, Kristy Powell was stopped by police officers along with her husband, who was driving a lowrider vehicle. Powell filed a lawsuit against the police department in 2016, claiming that she had been compelled to remove her headscarf, which was a violation of her First Amendment rights. The settlement was approved and the payment is to be made by the local municipal authority.

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“She cried throughout the ordeal and experienced humiliation when both her religious beliefs and personal integrity were violated,” the lawsuit said.

Kristy Powell was arrested after the police found a warrant against her name regarding a shoplifting incident. Powell’s husband had requested the police department for a female officer to handle her case, but the request was denied and Powell was ordered to let go of her headscarf. She spent the night in prison without the hijab, which was returned after her husband posted her bond.

According to the lawsuit, Powell was “forced to appear in a publicly available booking photo without her religious headwear, as a result of the foregoing deprivations of the free exercise of her religion, Kirsty Powell suffered severe discomfort, humiliation, and emotional distress.”

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The settlement was announced by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a press release praising Powell.

“We commend Kirsty Powell for choosing to defend her right to religious freedom and taking action.”

Speaking to the Council, Powell said she hoped she would be the last Muslim woman to go through such an experience.

This article originally appeared on BBC.