Lawsuit filed claiming police forced removal of woman's hijab

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is filing a lawsuit against the city of Dearborn.

A woman alleges police officers violated her rights by forcing her to remove her religious headscarf hijab.

"The city of Dearborn should know that the covering of a Muslim woman is a religious observance," said Fatina Abdrabboh, ADC Michigan director. "The woman was arrested for a year or two-year-old unpaid parking violation. She was arrested in a public place in a local Walmart and she presented no threat except perhaps for her frantic crying and begging to not have her head scarf removed."

But the lawsuit alleges Dearborn police forced her to remove her hijab in the presence of male officers. 

The plaintiff chose not to be present at Tuesday's press conference.

"The plaintiff was not provided a woman officer despite her requests for one," Abdrabboh said. "And having a woman take the mugshot is a very good first start at addressing the problem." 

The ADC Michigan Director says the case is not isolated and that other women have contacted the committee about Dearborn police allegedly forcing them to remove their religious head scarves.

That was why ADC Michigan partnered with the NAACP to demand changes 

"We are outreaching to our sisters at the ADC, we're outreaching to the men and women who need to be protected - because all lives matter," said Walter Straghill, the NAACP Western Wayne president.

ADC Michigan believes communication is the key and claim if they could have a conversation with the Dearborn police they could come up with a policy that's beneficial to both sides.

"If the city of Dearborn is willing to talk to us and talk to other civil rights partners we can come up with a policy that balances the needs of policing and the fundamental rights of Americans in this country for their religion freedom," said Abdrabboh. 

Fox 2 reached out to Dearborn Police and Chief Ronald Haddad, who would not comment.

A representative for the city of Dearborn took the same position but said she could not comment because the lawsuit has not been served. 

ADC Michigan says they will keep pressing for change that will respect their religious freedom.

"This is not about officer safety," Abdrabboh said. "She could have been fully identified with her head scarf." 
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