Ferndale police settle with Muslim woman over hijab removal lawsuit

Ferndale's Police Department plans to implement new policies following a lawsuit filed by the Council on American Islamic Relations over the removal of a Muslim woman's hijab after a traffic stop in 2021.

The Michigan Chapter of CAIR said it reached a "satisfactory settlement" with the department after Helena Bowe accused officers of violating her religious freedom when she was told to remove her head piece for a mug shot. 

Bowe was arrested on June 21 last year after police ran her license plate and believed she had an expired tag. While her tags were not expired, Bowe disclosed she had a taser in her purse, which police said she needed a permit for. 

The events that followed is what prompted a lawsuit against the department when Bowe said she was searched by a male police officer and was ordered to remove her abaya. "The male guard forced our client to remove her religious covering despite her pleas to not have to remove it, stating that removing it made her in a state of undress and that was a violation of her sincerely held religious beliefs," said Attorney Amy Doukoure said during a press conference.

According to a release from CAIR-MI this week, a monetary settlement was reached with the department. Ferndale police will also allow Muslim women to maintain wearing their hijab during a booking a photo and prohibiting cross-gender searches.

RELATED: Civil rights group alleges Ferndale PD forced Muslim woman to remove hijab following arrest

"We are pleased to announce this settlement and believe that the policies that Ferndale has put in place will help protect the religious rights of Muslim women who may find themselves in their custody," Doukoure said.