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Muslims and Islamophobia ( 18 Dec 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Georgia Judge Jails Muslim Woman Over Head Scarf

by: Dionne Walker

18 December 2008

 Lisa Valentine was arrested Tuesday for contempt of court for refusing to take off her head scarf. (Photo: AP / John Amis)

    Atlanta - A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her head scarf at a courthouse security checkpoint said Wednesday that she felt her human and civil rights were violated. A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.


    Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.


    Kelley Jackson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said state law doesn't permit or prohibit head scarfs.


    "It's at the discretion of the judge and the sheriffs and is up to the security officers in the court house to enforce their decision," she said.


    Valentine, who recently moved to Georgia from New Haven, Connecticut, said the incident reminded her of stories she'd heard of the civil rights-era South.


    "I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," she said Wednesday from her home. She said she was unexpectedly released after the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.


    The group cited a report that the same judge removed a woman and her 14-year-old daughter from the courtroom last week because they were wearing Muslim head scarves.


    Jail officials declined to say why she was freed and municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins said that "it would not be appropriate" for him to comment on the case.


    Last year, a judge in Valdosta in southern Georgia barred a Muslim woman from entering a courtroom because she would not remove her head scarf. There have been similar cases in other states, including Michigan, where a Muslim woman in Detroit filed a federal lawsuit in February 2007 after a judge dismissed her small-claims court case when she refused to remove a head and face veil.


    Valentine's husband, Omar Hall, said his wife was accompanying her nephew to a traffic citation hearing when officials stopped her at the metal detector and told her she would not be allowed in the courtroom with the head scarf, known as a hijab.


    Hall said Valentine, an insurance underwriter, told the bailiff that she had been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be a religious violation. When she turned to leave and uttered an expletive, Hall said a bailiff handcuffed her and took her before the judge.



    Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.




Imagine the national outrage

Fri, 12/19/2008 - 01:48 — jimbier (not verified)

Imagine the national outrage if this had been a white Roman Catholic nun in her habit!

While a scarf can indeed be

Fri, 12/19/2008 - 01:39 — dtroutma (not verified)

While a scarf can indeed be used to conceal a weapon, metal detectors or wands are there. I wonder how many rabbis or devout Jews, have been refused, or if the good judge would arrest the Pope for his "head covering". At the same time, issuing expletives isn't the brightest thing an "afflicted and abused" person should do to cement positive relations with the court.

Good God, this is

Fri, 12/19/2008 - 01:26 — Anonymous (not verified)

Good God, this is ridiculous. What, did they think she had a bomb on her head? I don't think so. They were just being jerks. I can't believe they can make the charges stick.


Georgia Muslims Barred From Court Because of Hijab

Dec. 16, 2008

Washington, CAIR calls on DOJ to probe possible civil rights violations

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 behaviour 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."

Last year, CAIR representatives met with city and court officials in Valdosta, Ga., to discuss policies regarding the wearing of hijab in local courtrooms. The meeting was prompted by a June 2007 incident in which a Muslim woman seeking to contest a speeding ticket was barred from a Valdosta courtroom because she wore an Islamic headscarf.

In a letter sent to the Georgia attorney general following that incident, CAIR said the judge's actions violated the Georgia Code of Judicial Conduct, Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail:

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations