The lawsuit alleges that LAPD officers lacked sufficient justification to either arrest Nusaiba Mubarak or force her to remove religious garments.
A Muslim woman is suing Los Angeles and its police department, claiming officers forcibly removed her headscarf while waiting to enter a city meeting.
According to The L.A. Times, Nusaiba Mubarak, 26, announced her lawsuit Thursday.
In it, Mubarak claims she was waiting to enter a Police Commission meeting last year when she was confronted and “aggressively manhandled by three police officers nearly twice [her] size, who without any warning” grabbed her and “pushed [her] to the wall, handcuffed [her], and shoved [her] into another room” where she was stripped of her hijab and subject to further humiliation.
Mubarak, who’s represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said law enforcement rushed the area she was standing in after another protester went over his allotted speaking time.
However, Mubarak says police gave no reason for her own detention.
Furthermore, Mubarak and her attorneys say law enforcement provided no justification for their decision to remove her headscarf.
Hijab—modest attire which typically includes a headscarf or other covering—is a widely-practiced form of dress for Muslim women. Interpretations of Islamic scripture, including the Quran and Hadith, typically forbid women from removing hijab save for when they are in the exclusive presence of close relatives.
Mubarak, adds the Times¸ was ultimately released from LAPD custody without charge. She said the ordeal left her “shocked and quite terrified.”
Her lawsuit names the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD Chief Michel Moore, Detective Corey Harmon, and four other, unnamed officers as defendants.
In her complaint, Mubarak explains that she decided to file a lawsuit “to challenge illegal LAPD behavior that callously humiliated her, stripped her of a religious garment in front of others, and erased her chance to publicly address the public body that oversees the very officers who violated her rights.”
The Los Angeles Times notes Mubarak was attending a Police Commission meeting in September 2019 to protest the shooting of Albert Ramon Dorsey the year prior.
Dorsey was fatally shot by an LAPD officer after punching another officer in a gym locker room. While Chief Moore declared the shooting justified, the Police Commission’s reported suggested that departmental policy had been breached when officers opened fire on Dorsey.
Lena Masri, Mubarak’s CAIR-appointed counsel, said her client’s experience is representative of how law enforcement treats religious and ethnic minorities.
“Muslim women across the country are having their hijabs senselessly removed by police officers, even during traffic stops for minor traffic violations, in court houses, in correctional facilities, and when having their booking photos taken,” Masri said in a statement.
Masri framed Mubarak’s experience as patently illegal, saying her constitutional rights were violated both by the unjust arrest and removal of Mubarak’s headscarf.
“The callousness that the LAPD officers exhibited towards Nusaiba was a senseless attack on her religious liberty,” Masri said.