Headscarf Lands Muslim Woman in Jail

Posted on December 17, 2008



Sister Lisa Valentine

Sister Lisa Valentine

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – updated: 10:04 am EST December 17, 2008

A head scarf landed a Muslim woman in jail Tuesday after she refused to remove it during a hearing at the Douglasville Municipal Court. 

Lisa Valentine, also known by her Islamic name, Miedah, 40, was arrested for ‘violating a court policy of no headgear’, Chris Womack, deputy chief of operations for the Douglasville Police Department said on Wednesday. 

Please take a survey as to whether her rights to religious freedom were violated

 Valentine was in court with a nephew who was facing a traffic citation. She was wearing a hijab, the head covering worn by Muslim women. 

When she refused to remove it she was handcuffed and taken to Judge Keith Rollins’ chambers. He cited her for contempt and ordered her held in jail for 10 days. [please click here to read the whole article].

Judge Keith Rollins has previously ordered other Muslim women to remove their hijab

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Other Muslim women said the same judge has ordered them to remove their hijabs.

Sabreen Abdul Rahman, 55, said she was asked to take off her scarf when she went to the municipal court last week with her son. “I can’t. I’m Muslim,” she mouthed silently to the bailiff, who then removed her from the courtroom, Rahman said.

“This is a religious right,” she said.

Halimah Abdullah, 43, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after Rollins held her in contempt of court for refusing to remove her head covering. Rollins could not be reached for comment. [more]

CAIR Seeks Sanctions Against Anti-Hijab Judge in Georgia

WASHINGTON, D.C., 12/17/08) A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker to bring sanctions against a judge in that state who has repeatedly barred Muslim women wearing religiously-mandated headscarves, or hijabs, from entering his courtroom.

In a letter sent today to Attorney General Baker, CAIR National Legal Counsel Nadhira F. Al-Khalili wrote in part:

“We assert that Judge Rollins’ actions violate the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct…It is also our contention that a courtroom is a ‘public facility’ under Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and denial of access to the courtroom based on religious beliefs or practices is therefore discriminatory.

“In addition, we believe Judge Rollins’ actions are in violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law. The United States Supreme Court has held that a state may not infringe upon the free exercise of a citizen’s religious observance absent a compelling state interest.We believe that no such compelling interest exists in these cases.

“Judge Rollins’ policy of exclusion would prohibit court entry to all Sikh men wearing turbans, all orthodox Jewish men and women wearing yarmulkes or head scarves, all Christian women wearing religious head coverings, and all Muslim men and women who wear skullcaps or scarves…

“I would therefore respectfully request that you take appropriate action to ensure that the legal, religious and civil rights of Georgians of all faiths be maintained. I would also request a formal investigation into this matter, sanctions where appropriate, and an assurance that all those wearing religious attire be allowed in state courtrooms.”

A copy of the letter was sent to the Judicial District Professionalism Program of the State Bar of Georgia.

CAIR also contacted the U.S. Department of Justice, which now says it is looking into the case.

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Yusuf Burke, 404-542-1209, E-Mail: yburke@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com