Appeals Court: Holding Cells Not Covered By Religious Freedom Laws

May 3, 2010

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The San Francisco Appeal

A federal appeals court ruled in San Francisco today that Orange County officials were entitled to require a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf when she was held in a courthouse holding cell four years ago.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said by a 2-1 vote that a brief stay in a holding cell is not covered by a federal religious freedom law known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The court ruled in the case of Souhair Khatib, an emigrant from Lebanon who said in her federal lawsuit that her Islamic religious beliefs required her to wear a headscarf covering her hair and neck.

Khatib was required by county officials to remove her headscarf while she was confined to a courthouse holding cell for a few hours on July 29, 2006, while awaiting a probation violation hearing.