St. Paul police now allow employees to wear hijab

March 1, 2014

 

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The St. Paul Police Department is now allowing employees to wear a police-issued hijab headscarf, according to an announcement Saturday.

St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith said he knows of only one other department in Washington, D.C., that allows the hijab in the United States, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1gJtpFc).

Cities in Canada and Great Britain allow Muslim officers to wear police-issued hijabs while in uniform.

The St. Paul announcement comes in tandem with the recent hiring of their first Somali woman, Kadra Mohamed. She serves as a Community Liaison Officer.

Although the Twin Cities has the nation’s largest Somali-American population, Garaad Sahal was St. Paul’s first and remains the only sworn Somali-American police officer, joining in late 2012.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised Saturday’s announcement in a news release.
Muslim women who wear the hijab believe it’s their religious obligation and asking them to remove it is akin to asking them to remove a shirt or other piece of clothing, Saroya said in the news release.

CAIR: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12397-cair-mn-welcomes-new-st-paul-police-hijab-policy.html

Muslim cabbie sues for right to wear religious garb

ST. LOUIS — A Muslim taxicab driver is suing the city of St. Louis, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and a private security company, saying he has been harassed and arrested because he insists on wearing religious garb.

Raja Awais Naeem, who works for Harris Cab and manages a shuttle service called A-1 Shuttle, says his religious beliefs require him to wear modest, loose-fitting clothing and a hat called a kufi. But that garb has run afoul of the taxicab commission’s dress code for cabbies, Naeem claims in the suit filed Thursday (Dec. 13) in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Naeem, originally from Pakistan but now a U.S. citizen, said he has been told he must adhere to the commission’s rules requiring a white shirt, black pants and no kufi. Baseball caps are allowed, as long as they have no logo other than the taxi certificate holder.

He claims he has been harassed and had his taxi license suspended when he continued wearing clothing he says is required by Islam, including the kufi, a loose shirt called a kurta and loose-fitting pants called shalwar. Naeem said the clothing maintains modesty by concealing the figure.

In his lawsuit, Naeem says he was written a citation by a Whelan Security guard in June 2011 for wearing “foreign country religious dress.” Other times he had his taxi license suspended or was told he would be arrested for trespassing if he worked in his religious clothing, he said.

“I don’t understand how you can justify somebody wearing his religious clothes getting arrested,” Naeem said in a news conference on the courthouse steps, where he was joined by other cabbies and his lawyer from the ACLU.

His suit seeks an injunction to allow religious dress for cabdrivers, and civil damages including attorney’s fees and other costs.