Muslim Woman Arrested for Allegedly Refusing to Take Off Headscarf at Georgia Courthouse

A Georgia judge ordered a Muslim woman arrested Tuesday for contempt of court for refusing to take off her head scarf at a security checkpoint.

A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's west suburban outskirts.

Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police spokesman Chris Womack said.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate the incident as well as others in Georgia.

The group cited a report that the same judge barred a local woman and her 14-year-old daughter from the courtroom last week because they were wearing Muslim head scarves.

"I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," Valentine told The Associated Press Wednesday from her home, after she said she was unexpectedly released once CAIR requested the federal investigation.

Municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins said that "it would not be appropriate" for him to comment on the Valentine case. He declined further comment.

Last year, a judge barred a Muslim woman from entering a courtroom in Valdosta in southern Georgia because she would not remove her hijab. There have been several similar cases in other states including Michigan, where a Muslim woman in Detroit filed a federal lawsuit in February 2007 after a judge dismissed her small-claims court case when she refused to remove a head and face veil.

Valentine's husband, Omar Hall, said his wife was accompanying her nephew to a traffic citation hearing Tuesday when officials stopped her at the metal detector and told her she would not be allowed in the courtroom with the head scarf, known as a hijab.

Hall said Valentine, an insurance underwriter, told the bailiff that she had been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be a religious violation. When she turned to leave and uttered an expletive, Hall said a bailiff handcuffed her and took her before the judge.

Valentine, who recently moved to Georgia from Connecticut, said the incident reminded her of stories she'd heard of the civil rights-era South.

"It's discrimination," she said Wednesday.