Muslim civil rights group asks jail to grant religious accommodation
ST. LOUIS, April 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-St. Louis) is calling on the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton, Mo., to grant religious accommodation for Muslim inmates who wear a religious headscarf, or "hijab."
CAIR-St. Louis made that request after a Muslim woman who was jailed recently for several hours because of an unpaid traffic ticket reported that an officer forcibly removed her hijab. The officer allegedly told the woman, "take it (the hijab) off or we will take it off for you."
CAIR: Removal of Muslim Woman's Head Scarf at St. Louis County Jail Sparks Anger (Post-Dispatch)
"Religious rights should not end at the jailhouse door," said CAIR-St. Louis Executive Director Faizan Syed. "With goodwill on all sides, a solution can be reached that maintains constitutionally-protected religious rights as well as legitimate safety and security needs."
Syed noted that the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to overturn a lower court ruling that said a Muslim woman "had the right to wear the scarf unless jailers could show it was a security risk."
In that case, the Muslim woman's suit cited the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which prohibits state and local governments from imposing "a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person residing in or confined to an institution."
SEE: Muslim Woman Can Sue Jailers for Making Her Remove Her Headscarf
SCOTUS: Souhair Khatib Can Sue for Having to Remove Her Hijab
CAIR's Minnesota chapter (CAIR-MN) helped resolve a similar case in which a Muslim woman sought to exercise her religious rights while in jail.
SEE: CAIR-MN Calls on Sheriff's Office to Grant Hijab Accommodation
CAIR: Allow Hijab at Sherburne County Jail
The Washington-based group offers an educational toolkit, called "A Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help correctional officers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
SEE: A Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)