SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – A Muslim woman on Wednesday sued a Michigan judge for telling her to remove her headscarf in his courtroom, claiming he violated her First Amendment right to practice her religion.
Raneen Albaghdady, 32, says she felt humiliated when Wayne County Circuit Judge William Callahan ordered her to remove her hijab at a June 16 hearing in his Detroit courtroom.
"This is the country and the land of freedom, and we're not supposed to be treated like this for the scarf," the Dearborn Heights woman said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Southfield headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relation's Michigan chapter, which joined in the federal lawsuit against Callahan and Wayne County.
Callahan says Albaghdady, a native of Iraq, removed the scarf without protest and never mentioned its religious significance. If she had, he said, she would have been allowed to continue wearing it.
"Judge Callahan has the greatest respect for spiritual practices and all religious preferences," he said in a statement released by the court. "He accepts that some women cover their hair as a religious practice, including Muslims and some nuns. He has never prevented a Muslim woman from exercising her right to cover her hair."
Some Muslims believe Islamic law requires women to wear a headscarf, veil or burqa in the presence of a man who is not a close relative. The hijab, a headscarf that does not cover the face, is worn by many Muslims in the United States.
The suit asks a federal judge to order judges in Wayne County to allow the wearing of the headscarf in court.