Muslim woman's lawyer says she was forced to remove hijab while under arrest for protesting
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A Muslim woman who was arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest in Miami was allegedly forced to remove her religious head covering for several hours and had her mugshot taken without it.

Alaa Massri, 18, was arrested after protesting on June 10. Her lawyer, Khurrum Wahid, told The Associated Press that her hijab “is part of a sincerely held religious belief that she has” and that “it was removed against her will.” 

“There is no need to remove the hijab and photograph her,” Wahid told the outlet. “A search can be conducted by a same-sex officer in a private room and the hijab can be placed back on her.”


Massri’s arrest affidavit states that she was charged with battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence and disorderly conduct, according to the AP. The report says an officer grabbed Massri after giving her multiple commands to move out of a roadway. She allegedly punched him “in the right bicep with a closed fist.”

Wahid said Massri “did not intentionally strike anyone," adding that “there was a lot of chaos going on when the police began this confrontation by rushing the protesters,” the AP reported. He said the teenager was at the protest helping people who were injured.

The Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department said in a statement to The Hill, “We are committed to ensuring that individual’s faith-based beliefs and practices are respected and will review this incident to ensure compliance with our policies and this commitment.”

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the department over the allegations in a Saturday statement.

“We believe that Miami Police’s forceful removal of Ms. Alaa Masri’s hijab for a public booking photo is a severe violation of her constitutionally protected religious freedoms. Keeping her from wearing the hijab for the over 7 hours while in custody arrest shows deliberate disregard for Ms. Masri’s constitutional rights,” CAIR-Florida attorney Omar Saleh said. 

A petition demanding “Justice for Alaa” has garnered more than 120,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. The petition calls for all charges against Massri to be dropped, for her mugshot to be removed and for the officers involved to be “publicly investigated.”

The petition states that Massri witnessed “an individual being hit with a police vehicle” at the June 10 protest and "rushed to go aid whomever might have been injured but was stopped by 6-8 cops in riot gear” before being arrested.

Protests have broken out across the country over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died after a former police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest.

Updated: 9:35 p.m.