Georgia Muslims Barred From Court Because Of Hijab

December 16, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Yahoo News/PRNewswire-USNewswire

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a series of incidents in which Muslim women in Georgia were prevented from entering courtrooms because they were wearing Islamic headscarves, or hijabs.

In the most recent incident, a Muslim woman was jailed today following a dispute over whether she could enter the courtroom while wearing her hijab.

According to the woman's husband, she was seeking to enter the courtroom in Douglasville, Ga., to deal with a matter related to a nephew's traffic citation. After she walked through the security area, a bailiff allegedly told her she would not be permitted to enter the courtroom wearing her religiously mandated scarf. Frustrated at being prevented from entering the court, the woman reportedly uttered an expletive and sought to leave the area. As she attempted to leave, the bailiff reportedly handcuffed her and took her to the judge's chambers where she was sentenced to 10 days in jail for "contempt."

Members of the local Islamic community told CAIR that there have been at least two previous incidents involving Muslims being prevented from wearing religious attire in court.

One local Muslim woman reported to CAIR that she and her 14-year-old daughter were barred from the same judge's courtroom last week because they were wearing Islamic scarves.

"We ask the Department of Justice to investigate these troubling incidents to determine whether the women's civil or religious rights were violated," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "Judges have the right to set standards of dress and behavior in their courtrooms, but those standards should not violate the constitutional right to free exercise of religion or block unencumbered access to our nation's legal system."