A Muslim woman forced to remove her hijab by the police files a lawsuit against Ferndale

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  • File photo of a woman wearing a hijab.

A Muslim woman has sued the city of Ferndale, arguing that the city violated her religious rights by forcing her to take off her hijab to get a hold photo after her arrest.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) filed the lawsuit last week in US District Court on behalf of Helena Boye, who was stopped by Ferndale police on June 21 for allegedly driving with an expired license plate tag. . During a traffic stop, she told police she had a detonator for self-defense after she was robbed earlier in the year.

Police arrested her, saying state law requires people to have a permit to possess a Taser.

At the police department, an officer searched Bowe, even though she requested a female officer. CAIR-MI said she was then asked to take off her veil to get the custody photo, in violation of her religious beliefs.

CAIR-MI CEO Daoud Walid said the group decided to file the lawsuit after Ferndale officials refused to discuss violating Bowe’s religious beliefs.

“By not responding formally to our concerns raised on behalf of our clients’ civil rights which have been violated, we are left with no choice but to sue Ferndale Police,” Walid said in a statement. “Although the city describes itself as a municipality of diversity and inclusion, it appears that its police department is not serious about this claim when it comes to Muslims.”

CAIR-MI employees’ attorney Amy Doukuri said police have mishandled the case since they arrested Bowie.

“The entire Ferndale Police Department’s conduct on June 21, 2021 was problematic, beginning with its towing to the City of Detroit from the side of Eight Mile Road in search of stops for individuals unrelated to the City of Ferndale,” Doukuri said. “The problematic behavior of Ferndale police only escalated when officers allegedly violated Mrs. Bowie’s constitutionally protected religious rights by unnecessarily subjecting her to a gender search and forcibly removing her veil to obtain a photograph of custody. It is surprising that a city that prides itself on its vast diversity and claims to pursue inclusivity is silent about her insensitive treatment of a religious minority under her care and patronage.”

In a statement in September, Ferndale Police Chief Dennis Amy defended his officers, but acknowledged there was room for improvement.

“Our officers were simply following the department’s policy, which includes depicting hair as an important identifying feature,” Amy said. “Now, in reviewing the situation and circumstances, I see an opportunity for our policies to evolve to better meet the needs of our community.”

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