A Call to Action for Women of All Beliefs

Lisa Valentine's arrest on Tuesday is yet another example of the discrimination that Muslim women who wear hijab (headscarves) face on a daily basis. Valentine was told that she could not enter the courthouse in Douglasville, Georgia, unless she removed her hijab, and was jailed for contempt of court when she refused to do so. "I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," the AP reported Valentine saying. The ACLU of Georgia has expressed grave concern over policies that deny court access to Muslim women and followers of other faiths who wear religious headgear.

Muslim women and girls have been prohibited from wearing their headcoverings in a number of contexts. They have been fired from jobs, thrown off school sports teams, denied access to public places, and otherwise discriminated against because they wear hijab.

This isn't just a Muslim issue. This is also a women's rights and a human rights issue, because when Muslim women are denied the right to wear hijab, it's a statement that they are not free to choose how to express their beliefs. In a moving video we've just released, ACLU client, Jameelah Medina, spoke about her experience of being forced to remove her hijab in jail in San Bernardino County, California, and how it ignited her activism:

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"How many times have we experienced discrimination or hate because we're a woman, because we're a Muslim woman…? But we don't speak up, we just accept it, and we say, 'Someone else will do it; someone else will stand up and they'll make a difference, then I'll join that fight.' …I look forward to working with and… inspiring other women: whatever the issue is in your communities, that you stand up and say, 'I'm going to be the one.'"

Jameelah gave this inspiring speech at a conference sponsored in November by the ACLU Human Rights Program entitled, "Keeping Your Faith in Post 9/11 America: Religious and Ethnic Discrimination and Human Rights," where advocates and members of the Muslim community gathered to discuss the various rights violations that Muslims have faced in recent years. Jameelah also blogged recently on Feministing about what wearing hijab means to her and why being forced to remove it was such a violation of her rights as a woman, generating quite a lively discussion.

To learn more about Muslim women's rights and other hijab cases the ACLU has handled, check out www.aclu.org/muslimwomen.

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lokywoky

True American,

People from other countries (like yourself) are what this country is made up of. The only 'true Americans' are the indigenous people of the many tribes of what we mistakenly call Indians. You are just as much an immigrant as both these women because they were born here, and their parents were born here too.

The Constitution says that people must be free to practice whatever religion they choose, or not to practice any at all. The hijab is a religious symbol, like a yarmulke, or a cross. Muslims are from all over the world, not just Saudi Arabia, and yes, there are lots of them here. By the way - did you know that Thomas Jefferson had a copy of the Quran in his library? He read it too. Probably knew a bit more about that religion than you do.

So, thank your grandparents for immigrating to this country so you can be free to be just as hateful and bigoted as you like. Enjoy!

sabbry

Out of respect for the law and the institution, you don't wear hats, scarves, etc. in the context of the courtroom. I've seen white trash defend themselves against state prosecutors on meth charges, and despite those charges, they had enough sense to dress up for court, which begs the question, why didn't this woman?

These changing social mores, while not illegal, will not be tolerated, for the last virtues of a dying society are tolerance and apathy -- what will you do if I abdicate? Attend more anti-globalization concerts and pass out later that night on that on-again-off-again girlfriend's couch -- thereby doing nothing of consequence?

You have a case in other public contexts, but not in the courtroom.

(She wants to veil herself and disrespect the awesome gift of a jury of her peers? Fine. Why show up in person at all? We'll just go by the books and dole out the sentence via USPS mail with armed officers to deliver it.) -- More efficient! No need for watchdog groups, left or right!

The ACLU doesn't give a **** about women's rights. Not in the abstract they don't. Which one of them can say, "Women, Muslim women have it harder in America than in (insert country guided by an oppressive, masochistic, theocracy here)."

It's not about religion. It's about respect for institutions larger than any one life.

Tolerant but no...

The reason Islam is a bad religion.

MUSLIM BELIEF

This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is
a well-known leader in prison ministry. The man who walks
with God always gets to his destination. If you
have a pulse you have a purpose.

The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion
per capita in the United States , especially in the
minority races!!!

Last month I attended my annual training session
that's required for maintaining my state prison
security clearance. During the training session there was a
presentation by three speakers representing the Roman
Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each
of their beliefs.

I was particularly interested in what the Islamic
Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the
basics of Islam, complete with a video.

After the presentations, time was provided for
questions and answers.

When it was my turn, I directed my question to the
Imam and asked: 'Please, correct me if I'm wrong,
but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have
declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of
the world and, that by killing an infidel, (which is a
command to all Muslims) they are assured of a place in
heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the
definition of an infidel?' There was no disagreement with
my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, 'Non-believers!'

I responded, 'So, let me make sure I have this
straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to
kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can
have a place in heaven. Is that correct?'

The expression on his face changed from one of
authority and command to that of a little boy who had just
been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.'

He sheepishly replied, 'Yes.'
I then stated, 'Well, sir, I have a real problem
trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics
to kill those of your faith or Dr. Stanley ordering all
Protestants to do the same in order to guarantee them a
place in heaven!'

The Imam was speechless!

I continued, 'I also have problem with being your
friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your
followers to kill me! Let me ask you a question:
Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to
kill me in order for you to go to heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you
because I am going to heaven and He wants you to be there
with me?'

You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his
head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or
promoters of the Diversification' training seminar
were not happy with Rick's way of d e aling with the
Islamic Imam , and exposing the truth about the
Muslims' beliefs.

In twenty year s there will be enough Muslim voters in
the U.S. to elect the President! I think everyone in the
U.S. should be required to read this, but with
ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized,
unless each of us send it on!
This is your chance to make a difference...

FOR GODS' SAKE! SEND THIS ON!

Christian Woman

As a Christian it is so scary to see how hateful people can truly be. What makes this country great is that people are able to be free (at least now they are!) no matter who they are and where they come from and you if you support that than you don't have a right to be here. What does "acting like an american" mean? Every state, every city is different and no two people look alike. Inbrace that, respect that!

Steven

For all of you scared we will lose our country to left wing radicals joing www.talesofcourage.com

America for Ame...

The ACLU can got to hell, keep defending the people who want to see us dead! My god, this country needs to wake up and quite cattering to everyone else who isnt born here legally, oh we might offend someone then the ACLU will come and sue us! Lets all just roll over and take it up the @ss, thats what you want isnt it!

Jane

When in Rome, do as the Romans; when in America, do as the Americans. Most court rules require no headdress ... and that means NO headdress. Period, end of discussion. The ACLU only picked this case up because she's a Muslim. Give me a break .. tell her to follow the rules and she'll be just fine.

Scared American

Wow... I've never visited this site before. I used to think I was a feminist and progressive do what I want, old people are square from the ME generation and then God Blessed me with children & common sense. ACLU & Liberal Media are the handbasket by which America is headed to Hell.

When conservatists speak up we're considered ignorant or bigots or anti-American. Shame on you!

I thank God everyday that we live in a nation where freedome is possible, but with that freedome, comes responsibility and common sense to issues of security. I do not have a problem with women of Muslim faith wearing their hijab, however if you've ever worked security in a prison, county jail or otherwise the small and leathel weapons can be hidden in headgear, bras etc.

I take it ACLU didn't have any loved ones killed in 9/11.

Hey are you guys helping the lady who got fired for refusing to say "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" over the phone at work? She said it went against her Christian beliefs to use a generic term and she preferred to use CHRISTMAS in her greeting. She was terminated.

Face it this nation is divided.

Sarah

Any belief system that includes hate and deaths of other groups should be very carefully watched and frankly moderated. That includes religions that have as their guiding books a large number of words (why is even one sentence acceptable) that preach hate and violence towards other groups. How are they any different from the Nazis? Or white supremacists? Because they also include something about God? You're kidding right? Who was watching the Nazis? Frankly I bet you that's not what the founding members of this country meant by "religion". Why doesnt the ACLU protect White Supremacists then? Isnt that a religion?

Dick

There seem to be inconsistencies on both sides here. I have no source to cite, but it is improbable in the extreme (can anyone provide a more credible case report than Tolerant but not stupid's wannabe chain letter rant?) that the "no headgear" rule is enforced against, let's say Catholic nuns in habits or Jewish lawyers wearing yarmulkas. It is also likely that the hate mongers on this thread would be outraged by the former, and maybe the latter if they are not Christians of the cross burning variety.

On the other hand, where does the ACLU stand on the issue of school uniforms or banning certain items of clothing or colors as gang control measures? That looks generically to be same thing as banning religious garb in courtrooms.

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