Muslim Girl Sues Detroit, Michigan DoC for Forcing Her to Take away Hijab in Detention Heart Pictures

Roof of police car with blue light lit; image by Pixabay, via

According to Zainab Chabban, Detroit's Detention Staff offered her a difficult choice: to remove her hijab for mug shots or to spend the night on the floor of the booking room without bedding.

A Muslim woman is suing Detroit and the Michigan Department of Justice after she was allegedly forced to remove her hijab to take photos at the city's main prison.

According to The Detroit News, the lawsuit was filed by Zainab Chabban in federal court earlier this week. The 36-year-old woman is represented by the Michigan Legal Fund of the Council on Islamic American Relations.

As noted on the news, the Detroit Detention Center – 17601 Mound – is operated by the State Department of Corrections, not the City of Detroit.

Because of this, Detroit attorneys have denied the city's inclusion in the lawsuit.

"Neither the city of Detroit nor the Detroit Police Department take photos of people entering the Detroit Detention Center," Detroit management consultant Lawrence Garcia said in a statement. "The city does not belong in this lawsuit and we will ask for it to be dismissed."

Even so, the Detroit News pretends to have passed the liability issue on to Corrections – and was told that Chabban's City Police Department took mug shots.

Chabban, adds, was arrested in April 2019.

Stock image of an Indonesian woman wearing hijab. Islamic scholars tend to agree that men and women should dress modestly. However, there are many sectarian and sociocultural differences in terms of what constitutes a proper hijab. Image via Pixabay. Public domain.

A few weeks earlier, she was involved in a domestic dispute with her ex-husband over custody. The argument became physical and ended after Chabban and her ex-husband fell off a porch.

"He pushed me on," she said. “I fell off the edge of the porch. I said, "Whoa." And I grabbed his arms. We both fell from the side of the porch. I hit my head and back. "

Chabban and her ex-husband called each other, but law enforcement didn't respond to either call.

Chabban later filed for an injunction against her ex.

Not long afterwards, Chabban was arrested for her role in the disturbance.

"I was charged with domestic violence, assault and malicious destruction of buildings," Chabban said, adding that her case has been brought to trial and found not guilty.

One way or another, Chabban suggested that her experience at the Detroit Detention Center was humiliating. Shortly after the capture, she claims male co-workers forced her to remove her hijab in front of her.

Hijab, sometimes referred to simply as the "headscarf," is a form of modest covering that is widely considered to be mandatory for Muslim women. While definitions of what constitutes "proper" hijab vary between and across geocultural spaces, the garment is widely adopted by Muslim women around the world. Women should not normally remove their hijab around men who are not close family members.

"When I went to the prison cell, they asked me to take off my scarf," said Chabban. I told them, 'This is how you will identify me. With this scarf. "

Although Chabban tried to explain to officials that hijab was an essential aspect of their religious identity, they allegedly refused to listen – and may even go so far as to remove it themselves.

The Detroit News, which offered a differently worded but more detailed narrative, said officials gave Chabban a choice: she could either remove her hijab and be photographed, or sleep on the booking room floor with no bedding.

"I felt like it was really something that hurt me," she said. "It influenced me mentally."

As has reported several times, what happened to Chabban is not an isolated incident. Even this year, several lawsuits have been filed against law enforcement agencies across the country over the exact same matter.

"It happens again and again," said Chabban, "and they don't understand that there are consequences.

"You don't just hurt one person and then it just goes up in thin air," she added. “You have to address these issues. You have to bring it to light. This is something real. Islam is here. Islam is growing. Islam is here, it's not going anywhere. You need to understand that there are laws and why we do things. "

Amy Doukoure, the CAIR-MI attorney who represents Chabban in the lawsuit, said her client has a legal, constitutional right to refuse to have her hijab removed – even if the Michigan Justice Department has a different policy.

"It's a very strict standard, it's a very high burden that the government has to prove to violate your religious rights," said Dokoure. "The US Constitution made it possible for us to do that, and every time it exceeds the policy of the Michigan Department of Corrections."

Doukoure went on to say that for Muslim women who choose to wear hijab, removing their headgear is tantamount to taking off their clothes.

“It's not hyperbolic to say that taking off a woman's headscarf or showing it around in front of women in front of men and then wearing that picture on your wrist and showing it to everyone she passes is like taking off someone's picture and then carry the picture around in front of strangers, ”said Doukoure.

The Council on Islamic-American Relations is calling for damages for Chabban, as well as a revised policy prohibiting correction officers from asking Muslim women to remove their hijab for mug shots.


Hijab removal for mug shot leads to federal lawsuit against Detroit City Prison, MDOC

Lawsuit: Detroit police forced a Muslim woman to remove her hijab while posting the photo

Muslim woman is suing Detroit city, MDOC, for having forced her to remove the headscarf on the booking photo