Two Muslim women are suing the New York Police Department alleging that officers forced them to remove their hijabs for official arrest photos, according to the New York Times.
Jamilla Clark, 39, and Arwa Aziz, 45, claim that the NYPD’s policies for photographing arrested individuals who are forced to remove “religious head coverings that leave the face unobstructed” violated their religious rights, the Times reports.
On Friday, the two women filed a civil rights lawsuit in the United States District Court in Manhattan.
Clark and Aziz were arrested in two separate incidents on violating orders of protection. Prosecutors later dismissed the charges.
Clark told the paper that she was detained for hours in January 2017 at a Manhattan holding cell where she was told she had to remove her hijab for the photo. Aziz said a similar incident occurred in August 2017 in Brooklyn where she was forced to remove the religious headscarf in front of male prisoners.
“We will review the complaint, but we are confident that the police department’s religious head covering policy passes constitutional muster,” Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for New York City’s Law Department told the Times. “It carefully balances the department’s respect for the customs of all religions with the legitimate law enforcement need to take arrest photos. Persons who do not wish to remove religious head coverings in front of others have the option of being taken to a separate, more private facility to be photographed.”
Albert Fox Cahn, legal director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who also represents both women in the suit, told the Times that removing their hijabs was a violation of their sense of privacy and “their sense of dignity, and their sincerely held religious beliefs.”