Posted on June 23, 2020

Muslim Woman Was Forced to Remove Hijab for Booking Photo After Arrest, Advocacy Group Says

Azi Paybarah, New York Times, June 22, 2020

An 18-year-old Muslim woman was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photograph after she was arrested in Miami this month during a protest, an advocacy group said on Monday.

The woman, Alaa Massri of Miami Beach, was among the demonstrators who were protesting at the site of two statues of Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León near Bayside Market on June 10, according to the Miami Police Department.

Several demonstrators vandalized the statues with, among other things, spray-painted images of a hammer and sickle, the police said. Afterward, several altercations broke out as officers tried to arrest demonstrators, the police said.

At one point, officers formed a “skirmish line” to prevent demonstrators from “taking over the street,” the police said. An officer who ordered several other people out of the street “came into contact” with Ms. Massri. She “became irate” as an officer “was guiding her up the street,” the police said. They said that the officer “grabbed” her after she “continued to remain in the roadway” and that she punched the officer “in the right bicep with a closed fist.”

After briefly resisting arrest, Ms. Massri was taken into custody and charged with battery against an officer, resisting an officer with violence to his person and disorderly conduct, the police said.

Ms. Massri was processed at a Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation center. There, according to Hassan Shibly, the chief executive director of CAIR Florida, a civil liberties and advocacy organization, corrections officers took off her hijab.


As of Monday night, more than 104,000 people had signed a petition online denouncing the treatment of Ms. Massri by the county corrections department. The officers “consciously took away her rights to be a woman practicing Islam and spread an image she never thought would be out in the world,” the petition says.