A Muslim woman was granted a $120,000-settlement after filing a lawsuit against the Ramsey county jail in Minnesota, the United States. The case alleges that the county jail forced Aida Shyef Al-Kadi, 57, to remove her hijab in front of a male officer and her abaya (full-length garment) in front of policewomen.
In 2013, a judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Al-Kadi for missing a court hearing she had in June over a traffic offense. Al-Kadi had to take her daughter to the hospital at the time and it coincided with the date of the hearing.
The woman, born and raised in Ohio, moved to Minnesota in 2005 for the sake of her daughter, who needed specialized medical care.
In August 2013, Al-Kadi turned herself in. She was told to remove her hijab and abaya for a booking photo. When she refused, officers placed her in a holding cell where she was forced to remove her hijab in front of a male cop. She was also forced to strip so she wears the jail's uniform in the presence of two policewomen.
Al-Kadi eventually agreed to taking off her hijab after being promised the photos would not be leaked to the public. She was then given a bedsheet to use as a hijab. Months later, she found the photos on a third-party blackmail website which asks users for money to remove a photo.
The muslim woman took it upon herself to file a lawsuit against the county jail for putting her through "one of the most humiliating and harmful experiences" of her life. She argued that the officers at the jail violated her constitutional rights and discriminated against her religious preference and beliefs.
"I knew that I did not want any other Muslim woman to experience what I did," Al-Kadi said after winning the case.
Alongside her lawyers, she made an appearance at the Minneapolis headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to report her good news. Her settlement was approved last month.
The settlement not only meant that Al-Kadi would get $120,000 in compensation, but that the jail would have to set rules regarding religious beliefs.
One of the jail's amended policies in 2014 includes that inmates who wear the hijab would not be forced to remove it in front of male officers, according to The Guardian. Female inmates must be instructed to pull back the headscarf to show the hairline but not the ears before putting the scarf back into place. Sheriff's corrections officers are to be trained on the mannerisms in which to treat the inmates depending on their religious beliefs and any religious attire they wear.
"Even though I was afraid, I wanted to pursue my rights under the Constitution of the United States. I wanted to do it in a way that would make it less likely that any other Muslim woman would experience the harm that I did," Al-Kadi told the audience at CAIR.
Although the county jail is not required to admit to any wrongdoings, they are, nevertheless, responsible for taking down any and all the copies, hard or electronic, of Al-Kadi's publicly released mugshots.