A female inmate at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia has allegedly been denied the right to wear a hijab, a head covering worn by many Muslim women.
Nadhira Al-Khalili, national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that on Dec. 31, corrections officers forced a woman to remove her hijab for a booking photograph and then did not allow her to wear it while she was incarcerated. CAIR sent a letter to the S.C. Department of Corrections early last week requesting that the agency obey the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act, which protects religious practices in prisons.
The hijab is a matter of modesty, and some Muslims believe that the hadiths, or sayings of the prophet Muhammad, require it. "Hijab is just like any other article of clothing," Al-Khalili says, "so if you asked a woman to take off her shirt, even if other women are taking off their shirts, if she doesn't feel comfortable removing that particular article of clothing, it's going to be a very demeaning and demoralizing experience." In other states, laws make specific accommodations for inmates who choose to wear turbans, yarmulkes, and hijabs, and female corrections officers are allowed to take female prisoners into a private room to search their hijabs for contraband.