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O.C. jailers violated Muslim's right to wear head scarf, court rules

Orange County jailers violated the religious freedom of a Muslim woman when they forced her to remove her head scarf in a courthouse holding cell, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Souhair Khatib was placed in the Santa Ana courthouse holding facility for about eight hours in 2006 after the court revoked her probation for a misdemeanor welfare fraud conviction. She was released later the same day.

Khatib and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California sued Orange County in 2007, saying male officers at the detention facility humiliated her and caused her "extreme mental and emotional distress” by ordering her to remove her head scarf after she explained that her religious beliefs forbade her from taking it off.

A U.S. District Court had sided with the county and dismissed the case, saying a federal law protecting inmates’ religious practices does not apply to short-term holding facilities.

The 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate the lawsuit and said the law calls for the broad protection of religious exercise.


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-- Tony Barboza

Comments () | Archives (5)

danger to self and others - just like shoelaces or a belt

My understanding is that the headscarf isn't a tenet of the religion, but rather a cultural thing in accord with their view of women as property.

So, it's ok for this lady to commit welfare fraud, she's obviously a standup type person. But don't try and violate her religious rights by not allowing her to wear a headpiece in which she could be hiding a gun, knife, drugs, handcuff key, etc.

If she's so religious, I'm sure her religion likely condones those that commit fraud against the people.

Many laws need to be changed and I hope tax dollars aren't going to fund the ACLU-bunch of nuts!

"danger to self and others - just like shoelaces or a belt"

The pants and shirts and undergarments are also dangerous? You can seriously hurt someone with pants.


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