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6th Grader Wins Headscarf Battle

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    ADC Commends DOJ for Protecting Student s Right to Wear Headscarf in School ADC welcomes the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division s complaint against an
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2004
      ADC Commends DOJ for Protecting Student's Right to Wear Headscarf in
      School

      ADC welcomes the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's
      complaint against an Oklahoma school district for violating the
      constitutional rights of a student by denying her the right to wear
      her hijab (headscarf) to school. ADC views this 14th Amendment-based
      complaint, which aserts equal protection for the student in question,
      as an important step in preserving equal rights for Americans Muslims.

      The Civil Rights Division made the announcement yesterday that it
      would "seek to intervene in a lawsuit pending against the Muskogee,
      Oklahoma Public School District to protect the right of a sixth-grade
      Muslim girl to wear a headscarf to school."

      According to the complaint, filed today in the U.S. District Court
      for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the student was twice suspended
      from the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy for refusing to take off
      her headscarf, or hijab, after being told that it violated the
      school's dress code. That code prohibits students from wearing hats,
      caps, bandanas, or jacket hoods inside school buildings. The girl and
      her parents filed suit in October 2003.

      The Justice Department, in addition to its complaint, filed a motion
      to intervene in the private litigation. The case is entitled Hearn et
      al. v. Muskogee Public School District 020. "No student should be
      forced to choose between following her faith and enjoying the
      benefits of a public education," said Assistant Attorney General R.
      Alexander Acosta. "We certainly respect local school systems'
      authority to set dress standards, and otherwise regulate their
      students, but such rules cannot come at the cost of constitutional
      liberties. Religious discrimination has no place in American schools."

      According to the DOJ, "The complaint alleges that the school district
      violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to
      the Constitution, which bars states from applying dress codes in an
      inconsistent and discriminatory manner. The complaint asks the court
      to prohibit the school district from discriminating against the
      student, and to have the dress code policy revised to ensure that
      discrimination on the basis of religion does not continue."

      ===============
      MUSLIMS WELCOME JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HIJAB DEFENSE
      DOJ supports religious attire of OK Muslim student

      (WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/31/04) – The Council on American-Islamic
      Relations
      (CAIR) today welcomes a Department of Justice (DOJ) decision to
      support the right of an Oklahoma student to wear an Islamic head
      scarf, or hijab.

      School officials in Muskogee, Okla., had suspended the Muslim sixth-
      grader twice last fall because they claimed her hijab violated their
      dress code policy prohibiting hats, caps, bandanas or other headwear.

      A CAIR alert about the girl's suspension drew international media
      attention and prompted hundreds of concerned Muslims to contact local
      and state education officials to request religious accommodation.
      School district officials subsequently allowed the Muslim student to
      attend classes pending a review of the dress code policy.

      The girl's parents filed suit against the Muskogee School District
      last October. Yesterday, the federal government filed a motion in the
      U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to support
      of the family's lawsuit. (Hearn et al. v. Muskogee Public School
      District 020.)

      "No student should be forced to choose between following her faith
      and enjoying the benefits of a public education," said Assistant
      Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta in a DOJ news
      release. "Religious discrimination has no place in American schools."

      SEE: http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2004/March/04_crt_195.htm

      "This significant legal step may help set a precedent that will
      benefit students of all faiths," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad
      Awad. "Our government's action also sends a clear message to the
      international community that America will defend its citizens'
      religious freedoms."

      Earlier this year, France moved to ban Muslim head scarves in public
      schools. Other countries, even some with Muslim-majority populations,
      have or are considering similar bans.

      The DOJ complaint alleges that the school district violated the equal
      protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution,
      which bars states from applying dress codes in an inconsistent and
      discriminatory manner. CAIR also cited the Oklahoma Religious Freedom
      Act as legal support for religious accommodation. That act
      states: "No governmental entity shall substantially burden a person's
      free exercise of religion."

      CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, is
      headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 offices nationwide and
      in Canada.

      - END –

      CONTACT: Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, rahmed@cair-
      net.org

      ALSO SEE:

      U.S. TO DEFEND MUSLIM GIRL WEARING SCARF IN SCHOOL
      Terry Frieden, CNN, 3/31/04
      http://edition.cnn.com/2004/LAW/03/30/us.school.headscarves/

      WASHINGTON- The Justice Department announced Tuesday the government's
      civil rights lawyers have jumped into a legal case to support a
      Muslim girl's right to wear a head scarf in a public school.

      Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Alex Acosta said
      government lawyers would support 11-year-old Nashala Hearn, a sixth-
      grade student who has sued the Muskogee, Oklahoma, Public School
      District for ordering her to remove her head scarf, or hijab, because
      it violated the dress code of the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy,
      which she attended.

      The girl continued to wear her hijab to school and was subsequently
      suspended twice for doing so. The family appealed the suspensions,
      which were upheld by a district administrative hearing committee.

      Her parents filed suit against the Muskogee School District last
      October.

      On Tuesday the federal government filed a motion in a federal court
      in Muskogee to intervene in support of Nashala's position...

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations -- which has often been
      critical of the Bush administration's policies -- praised the
      government's support in the case.

      "This moves comes in a time when the Muslim community feels like they
      are being singled out and their civil rights threatened," a statement
      from the group said.

      "The news also sends out a message to the international community,
      especially some European countries where the wearing of the head
      scarf is being banned, that America will defend its citizens'
      religious freedoms..."

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