DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ/AP) – The Dearborn Heights Police Department has a new policy on booking and photographing people who wear religious head coverings.
The policy went into effect Monday with a U.S. District Court judge’s order. The change comes after Malak Kazan filed a federal lawsuit in January.
Kazan said she was forced to remove her hijab, a traditional Muslim head scarf, in the presence of men during booking and while in custody after being arrested last year in Dearborn Heights for driving with a suspended license.
As part of Muslim beliefs, the hijab — which, unlike the niqab or burka, covers the hair and neck but not the face — must be worn when in the presence of any males who are not family members.
According to the updated policy, a female officer will stand present while the arrestee removes her hijab if requested. The policy also states that the removal will be done in a private area, if possible, and photographs will be taken with the hijab both on and off.
Attorney Amir Makled told the Detroit News it “could be the model policy” for other communities. He filed the lawsuit on Kazan’s behalf.
Meantime, a similar lawsuit was filed in neighboring Dearborn last month. In that case, Maha Aldhalimi said she was forced to remove her hijab in the presence of several male officers while in custody for an unpaid parking violation.
Aldhalimi said she was crying while explaining that removing the scarf in front of male strangers would violate her religious beliefs, and that she finally agreed to remove it under threat.