Ginnnah Muhammad, 42, of Detroit, says in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit that Judge Paul Paruk’s request to remove her veiland his decision to dismiss her case when she didn’twas unconstitutional, based on her First Amendment right to practice her religion. The claim against Paruk also cites a federal civil rights law in alleging that Muhammad was denied access to the courts based on her religion.
Muhammad wore a niqaba scarf and veil that covers her head and face, leaving only the eyes visibleduring the October hearing in Hamtramck, a city surrounded by Detroit.
She was contesting a $2,750 charge from a rental-car company to repair a vehicle that she said had been burglarized.
Paruk told her he needed to see her face to judge her truthfulness and gave her a choice: Take off the veil while testifying or have the case dismissed. She kept it on.
Muhammad’s attorney Nabih Ayad said she unsuccessfully sought to get a different judge to hear the case and they plan to ask him to remove himself from the case.
Metropolitan Detroit has one of the country’s largest Muslim and Arab populations, and that includes Hamtramck. The suit says that because of that, others have either come before Paruk or will come before him. “Thus, future harm is imminent.”
Federal lawsuit: Ginnnah Muhammad, a Muslim woman whose small-claims court case was dismissed after she refused to remove her veil stands with her attorney, Nabih Ayad on Wednesday in Detroit. Ayad filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday that says Muhammad’s religious rights were violated.