ST. LOUIS - A leading US Muslim civil liberties group has welcomed a decision to allow the wearing of hijab in a Missouri country jail.
"We thank all those involved in discussing this issue for their goodwill and flexibility in meeting both the religious needs of those held in the jail and the legitimate safety and security needs of the facility," Faizan Syed, Executive Director of the St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a press release obtained by OnIslam.net on Tuesday, April 24.
The decision followed an earlier request by CAIR-St. Louis to accommodate Muslim women in Missouri jail.
The request came after a Muslim woman, who was jailed recently for several hours because of an unpaid traffic ticket, reported that an officer forcibly removed her hijab.
Souhair Khatib was ordered to perform 30 hours of community service each while on probation in June 2006.
Citing security concerns, the judge ordered Khatib to remove her headscarf to be dragged back before the judge without her veil.
Khatib, noting her religion forbids her from exposing her head or neck to men outside her immediate family, has sued the County or Orange and several officials for damages under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.
Last October 2011, the US Supreme Court upheld her right to sue the County of Orange for forcing her to remove her hijab.
Following CAIR's request, Director of St. Louis County Justice Services Herb Bernsen said he would review existing policies "to try to work out a solution that would satisfy both our security needs and individual religious concerns."
Jail officials will also sent a letter of apology to Khatib over forcing her to remove her headscarf.
A similar policy on religious accommodation could be adopted by other area jails.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net