A Muslim woman, Alaa Massri, who is only 18 years old set out to protest among others for Black Lives Matter in Miami. However, things took a turn when she was arrested on June 10 and allegedly forced to remove her hijab for a mugshot. This hijab was removed in front of male police officers and the mugshot was distributed to various news outlets. Sources say she also wasn’t allowed to put it back on for over 7 hours.
Her lawyer, Khurrum Wahid, had told authorities and sources that her hijab was “removed against her will” and that “There is no need to remove the hijab and photograph her. A search can be conducted by a same-sex officer in a private room and the hijab can be placed back on her.”
Why She Was Arrested
Alaa Massri was arrested and charged with battery and resisting a police officer with “violence” and “disordering conduct.” The incident report also alleges that after an officer “grabbed” her to escort her out of the street after she ignored orders to get out of the lane, Massri struck an officer “in the right bicep, with a closed fist.”
A petition calling for “Justice for Alaa” received more than 120,000 signatures. The petition calls for the drop of all charges against Massri, for removal of her mugshot and for “public investigation” of the officers that were involved in this.
The same petition explains that Massri witnessed “an individual being hit with a police vehicle” and “rushed to go to help whoever might have been injured but was stopped before being arrested by 6-8 cops in riot gear.”
Understanding The Significance of a Hijab
The hijab is a barrier or partition in Arabic. It has a wider meaning in Islam though. It is the concept of modesty, which encompasses both male and female conduct as well as clothing. The most visible form of hijab is the headcover which is worn by many Muslim women. Throughout its conventional form, women wear it to protect modesty and privacy. Muslim women who choose to wear the headscarf don’t take it off from outside their immediate families before men.
A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Corrections said in a statement to CNN “Arrested individuals who assert or appear to be of a specific faith are entitled to keep their heads hidden until they have been checked for contraband and the booking photograph taken.” When Massri’s hijab was forcefully removed from her head, it was misconduct of her faith and she felt disrespected. her lawyer is certain that she didn’t impose any violent actions on an officer and she had no intention of hurting anyone.
Miami Police continues to investigate this incident and the petitions are still being signed in Alaa’s favor.