Lawsuit filed against Dearborn Heights police for forcing woman to remove hijab

Malak Kazan pictured in a previous booking photo.
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) –A Muslim woman filed a federal lawsuit against the Dearborn Heights Police Department for forcing her to remove her hijab after being arrested.

Malak Kazan, 27, says that officers violated her right to religious freedom.

Kazan was arrested for a warrant following a traffic stop and being forced to remove her hijab, or head scarf, was religious discrimination.

Malak Kazan pictured in a previous booking photo.

“Your religious freedoms are not stripped at the jailhouse door,” said her attorney Amir Makled. “It’s part of the cannons of their faith to wear a head scarf. For her to have ti removed in front of a non-relative male, would be a non-pleasant experience for her.:

Kazan had let her driver’s license expire and there were two warrants for her arrest because she never appeared in court. In November of 2014, she was booked and detained.

“Articles such as hats, caps, hijabs, can contain concealable items that could pose a threat or chance of injury to the cops or to themselves,” said Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Garvin.

Makled disagrees.

“At this point she is only doing a booking photograph,” he said. “They can’t get in here and say officer safety. It’s a booking photo it’s used for identity purposes only.”

Also part of the lawsuit was that there were no female officers present during the booking.

“Our procedure is to have them take the hijab off in the presence of a female,” Garvin said. “We don’t always have enough female officers present in the station. Our No. 1 concern is security of our officers and the prisoners.”

As a result, Kazan filed  the federal lawsuit to change the department’s policy and her humiliation.

“You have to remove your head scarf in order to take the booking photograph,” Makled said. “We found that practice to be extremely discriminatory.”

Professor Larry Dubin from the University of Detroit Law School thinks she has a good religious discrimination lawsuit.

“The First Amendment guarantees religious freedom,” Dubin said. “She is entitled to wear the hijab and not have it taken off unless there is a more state compelling interest that needs to be satisfied.

“And that’s what a federal judge is going to have to decide.”

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