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A Muslim woman has accused US police of forcing her to remove her hijab Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

A Muslim woman has accused US police of forcing her to remove her hijab

The investigation is ongoing [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 April, 2020

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Ihsan Malkawi claims she and her husband were arrested on 'false allegations of abuse' and was later told to remove her hijab when she was being booked in.
A Muslim woman has accused New York police of demanding she remove her hijab for a photo after allegedly committing a driving offence, launching a federal civil rights lawsuit against the force.

The incident reportedly occurred in August 2019, when Ihsan Malkawi and her husband were arrested in New York's Yonkers, Westchester County "on false allegations of abuse" which her attorney said were later unfounded, NBC News reports.

The lawsuit, which was launched against the City of Yonkers State alleges that on the day in question, the daughter of Malkawi and her husband had tried to run away.

She was taken home and the three argued about the reasons her daughter wanted to return to Michigan where the family had previously lived.

According to the lawsuit the next day, whilst her parents were registering their other children in school, the daughter called the police and falsely alleged that her parents had assaulted her with a belt and curtain rod.

The parents were arrested and driven to the police station, where they were questioned separately.

Malkawi alleges that a female officer took her from her cell and told her to remove her hijab for a booking photo.

Malkawi refused, telling the police officer that it was an article of her faith, and after consulting a male supervisor, she was told to remove the scarf anyway because "it’s the law".

She called the experience "demeaning and humiliating".

Asking Muslim women to remove their head scarves is a common practice in that part of New York, though it has been ruled unconstitutional in other parts of the country, her attorney said.

After spending a night in jail, Malkawi was taken to a second prison for processing where she was once again photographed without her hijab, and forced to wear a short-sleeved shirt, the lawsuit alleges.

Her husband bailed her out on 28 August, but she was not given her hijab until outside the precinct. She had been without her hijab for 36 hours.

The lawsuit is ongoing.

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