Malak Kazan, 27, has filed a federal lawsuit against the police department of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, alleging discrimination. Kazan was arrested and detained last July because of an expired driver’s license. At the police station, male officers demanded she remove her hijab before her mug shot could be taken. According to Fox News, Kazan was instructed that she was not allowed to put her hijab back on while in custody.
Kazan has worn her hijab for more than 12 years and was extremely embarrassed when asked to remove her head scarf in front of male police officers. Kazan told Arab American News that “my religion says that I can't take it off. It's not just a religious issue; this is a part of me. It's my culture, my life and my identity."
Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Garvin defends the department’s actions and tells Fox News “Articles such as hats, caps, hijabs, can contain concealable items that could pose a threat or chance of injury to the cops or to themselves."
Amir Makled is the lawyer representing Kazan. Makled told Arab American News "To be exposed in front of men who aren't part of her immediate family is a serious breach of faith and practice. She has a sincere belief in her religion and to be demanded to remove her scarf is a clear violation. She felt extremely humiliated."
Kazan is suing for punitive and compensatory damages and is requesting that the Dearborn Heights Police Department change its policy regarding head scarves. The defendants named in the lawsuit include the City of Dearborn Heights, officers who booked Kazan, and Police Chief Lee Garvin.
This is not the first time the Dearborn Heights Police Department has been accused of discrimination. According to Arab American News, the department was sued in late 2014, by the American Arab Civil Rights League. The AACR accused the department of treating Muslim Americans like "second class citizens” and alleged the department lacked diversity training.