The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California reached a settlement with the County of Orange yesterday allowing for Muslim women to keep their religious headscarves on while in custody.
That wasn't the case back in 2006 when Lebanese Arabheimer Souhair Khatib and her husband pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor welfare crime.
Ordered to perform hours of community service, Khatib later asked for an extension alongside her husband, but the judge revoked their probation and placed them in holding cells. It was there that a male deputy ordered the devout Muslim to remove her scarf.
Khatib reluctantly complied after trying to explain why doing so in the sight of men she didn't know would cause great distress. She sued in 2007 on the basis that her religious freedoms were violated. As a result of the just-reached agreement, observant Muslim women in similar situations won't have to suffer through the same ordeal.
"I praise Allah and thank Him that I live in a country where I can
practice my religion freely," Khatib said in response to the news. "While not everyone understands Islam or what it requires of me, I'm
grateful that the U.S. government protects my right to fulfill my duty
to Allah, whether at work, on a public street or, yes, even in a
sheriff's holding facility."
As part of the agreement law enforcement officers will undergo training on the new policy that calls for the providing of temporary religious headscarves for Muslim women to wear while in custody. A total of $85,000 in damages and assorted costs was also awarded.
News of the settlement has unsettled Islamophobes among us claiming that 'sharia law' is creeping forward in the United States and that Orange County has just bowed down before one of the world's largest religions. They fear "muzzie-mahs," as they pejoratively call them, will sneak contraband and weapons into prison under their headscarves.
May their ignorance be abolished, inshallah!
Gabriel San Roman is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and tallest Mexican in OC.