Dearborn Heights woman told to remove hijab loses court case
Paul Egan / The Detroit News
Detroit — A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit against a Wayne County judge accused of telling a woman to remove her Islamic head scarf.
U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani ruled there was no evidence Wayne Circuit Judge J. William Callahan knew Raneen Albaghdady’s head covering had religious significance when he asked her to remove it during a name change petition last June.
“Albaghdady never protested removal of her head piece, she never informed defendant that her ‘hat’ was a hijab, and most critically, when asked to remove it, said, ‘OK. It doesn’t matter,'” Battani said in an 11-page opinion dismissing the lawsuit brought by the woman and the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan.
“There simply is no evidence that Callahan would have required the removal of a head covering if he had known of its religious significance.”
Albaghdady of Dearborn Heights said in an affidavit she acquiesced because she was “terrified and scared,” but Battani, who reviewed a videotape of the court proceeding, said “her demeanor in court does not comport with her assessment of her feelings.”
The suit alleged violation of Albaghdady’s constitutional rights.
Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR Michigan, said an appeal is under consideration.
But he said he saw positive elements in Battani’s decision because it recognizes that it would have been wrong for Callahan to ask Albaghdady to remove her head scarf, called a hijab, if he knew it had religious significance.
“The primary objective of why we filed the lawsuit … was to have recognition that religious attire, be it a hijab, yarmulke, habit or turban, will be recognized and respected in Michigan courts,” he said.