Muslim Woman Sues Detroit After Being Forced to Remove Hijab for Booking Photo

A Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit after she was asked to take off her hijab for a booking photo at the Detroit Detention Center.

The federal lawsuit against the City of Detroit, the Detroit Detention Center and the Michigan Department of Corrections is in response to an incident involving Zainab Chaaban in April 2019.

Detroit Police arrested Chaaban following a domestic incident at her home involving her husband, for which she was later cleared of all charges.

After being taken to the Detroit Detention Center for processing, she was asked to remove her hijab in full view of male officers while her mugshot was taken.

The hijab is a traditional Muslim headscarf and is worn by women when in the presence of a male who is not an member of their family.

"I felt it was really something that hurt me. It mentally affected me," Chaaban told Click on Detroit.

According to Chaaban's attorney Amy Doukoure, of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Chaaban was forced to wear a copy of her hijabless photo on a wristband and it present to male and female guards as she made her way through the facility.

Despite Chaaban later being found not guilty of the domestic-related charges against her, the booking photo of her not wearing a hijab is still available as a public record.

Chaaban said the officers demanding that she remove her hijab highlights how Muslims have their religious beliefs violated in the country.

"It keeps happening and they're not understanding that there are consequences. You don't just violate a person and then it just goes away into thin air. You have to address these issues," she said.

"You have to bring them to light. This is something that is real. Islam is here. Islam is growing. Islam is here, it's not going anywhere. They have to understand that there are laws and why we do things."

In a statement, Doukoure said: "Forcing a Muslim woman to remove her hijab in such a public manner where men were present and could see her is not only a violation of Ms Chaaban's religious beliefs, it is tantamount to forcing a woman to walk around completely naked in front of strangers. It is a degrading and traumatizing experience.

"There is no legitimate basis to force women to take a jail identification photo without their hijab when every form of government at the state and federal level allow women to cover their hair in all identification photos including passports and drivers' license."

The City of Detroit, Michigan Department of Corrections and Detroit Detention Center have been contacted for comment.

A Muslim woman walks along Coney Island Avenue on October 18, 2017 in New York City. A Muslim woman was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photo in Detroit has filed a lawsuit. Spencer Platt/Getty