Dearborn, MI – Malak Kazan was forced to remove her hijab after a traffic stop turned into a booking by the Dearborn Heights Police Department.
Her attorney Amir Makled of the law office of Cyril Hall in Dearborn, Michigan, represents Kazan, 27. “We want the Federal Court to make a ruling that the policy was unconstitutional, that Dearborn Heights Police Department failed to recognize Malak’s First Amendment right, and we’re hoping that the policy be changed,” Makled said who met with TMO on Kazan’s behalf.
The lawsuit, which was served to the city last Friday, is requesting that the current policy in place in Dearborn Heights be changed so that there is diversity training for police officers. Specifically it calls for training regarding what the hijab means to Muslim women.
Makled said that Kazan does not want any other women to experience what she did. Makled refers to this as not only a Muslim rights issue, but a women’s rights issue as well. He and his team feel that the policy cited to Kazan was discriminatory, and that the government does not have any compelling reasons to force a woman to remove her hijab. “It’s not going to be beneficial in terms of identity because Malak’s face was clearly shown [even with her scarf on],” said Makled.
Last July, Kazan was stopped for a traffic violation by the DHPD. Her license was suspended for outstanding tickets, so she was arrested. When she was brought into the booking area for the violation of driving with a suspended license, she says that she was demanded to remove her hijab for the booking photograph. Kazan says that she explained to the male officers that she could not take her scarf off in front of men for religious reasons. After explaining that this would violate her religious beliefs, the officer said there were no exceptions. According to Kazan, she continuously protested, but was repeatedly ordered to take it off. She requested to speak to a supervisor who told her as well “you have no other choice, you have to take it off,” she said.
“Then she said ‘if you’re going to force me to take this off I want a female,’ and they denied that request to bring a female. So at that point she felt compelled, based on the situation she was in, and the detention center she was at, she felt she had no choice but to remove her hijab,” explained Makled.
“Our number one concern is security of our officers and the prisoners,” said Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Gavin.
Though Makled argues that Kazan was not a prisoner, as she was released after paying a fine, thus does not even fall under this category. Though Gavin, who is named in Kazan’s lawsuit, told FOX 2 that the department requires individuals to remove any head covering for safety reasons, as they can “contain concealable items that could pose a threat.” He said that they currently have a procedure in place where women do remove their hijabs, but only in the presence of female officers, though there are not always female officers present during booking.