Muslim Woman in California Wins Settlement Regarding Hijab

A Muslim woman in California recently won a lawsuit to the impressive tune of $85,000. The payment is part of a settlement from the city of Long Beach. All of this stems from an incident that occurred in 2016. It was in that year a police officer forcibly removed a woman's hijab, or headscarf, while in police custody.

The incident began when Kirsty Powell was pulled over by a Long Beach police officer. Powell was a passenger in the car while her husband drove. The couple were pulled over for driving around in what is called a "low rider" car. Powell wasn't driving, but the police officer quickly discovered there was a warrant out for Powell's arrest regarding a shoplifting incident.

Powell's husband asked for a female police officer to handle the arrest. This request was denied, and Powell was told she had to remove her hijab. Powell ended up staying in a prison overnight without her hijab, an uncomfortable experience for the woman. Powell was later released after her husband posted bond the following day.

Powell eventually filed a lawsuit claiming that her civil rights were violated by being forcing to appear in a publicly available booking photo without a hijab. The lawsuit continued to state that the incident failed to allow Powell to practice her religion and caused unnecessary humiliation and emotional distress.

The Long Beach Police Department later changed its policies regarding hijabs in November of 2016. Arresting officers are now instructed to allow prisoners to wear a hijab. A hijab can only now be removed for safety concerns. It is hoped that an incident like the one experienced by Powell will never be repeated.

Activists praised the settlement. The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement praising Powell. The statement said, "We commend Kirsty Powell for choosing to defend her right to religious freedom and taking action." In addition, Powell herself spoke out about the experience when filing the lawsuit. She stated, "I want my Muslim sisters to always feel comfortable and safe wearing a hijab and to stand up for what's right," she said.

What are your thoughts about this settlement? Do you think Powell and her attorneys should have taken the case to trial to gain an even larger settlement? Do you think the settlement amount is too much or too little? Let us know your thoughts about this important issue in the comments below!