Ga. judge jails Muslim woman over head scarf 

The Associated PressPublished: December 17, 2008

ATLANTA: A Muslim woman arrested for refusing to take off her head scarf at a 
courthouse security checkpoint said Wednesday that she felt her human and civil 
rights were violated.

A judge ordered Lisa Valentine, 40, to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of 
court, said police in Douglasville, a city of about 20,000 people on Atlanta's 
west suburban outskirts.

Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any 
headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.

Kelley Jackson, a spokeswoman for Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said 
state law doesn't permit or prohibit head scarfs.

"It's at the discretion of the judge and the sheriffs and is up to the security 
officers in the court house to enforce their decision," she said.

Valentine, who recently moved to Georgia from New Haven, Conn., said the 
incident reminded her of stories she'd heard of the civil rights-era South.

"I just felt stripped of my civil, my human rights," she said Wednesday from 
her home. She said she was unexpectedly released after the Washington-based 
Council on American-Islamic Relations urged federal authorities to investigate 
the incident as well as others in Georgia.

The group cited a report that the same judge removed a woman and her 
14-year-old daughter from the courtroom last week because they were wearing 
Muslim head scarves.

Jail officials declined to say why she was freed and municipal Court Judge 
Keith Rollins said that "it would not be appropriate" for him to comment on the 

Last year, a judge in Valdosta in southern Georgia barred a Muslim woman from 
entering a courtroom because she would not remove her head scarf. There have 
been similar cases in other states, including Michigan, where a Muslim woman in 
Detroit filed a federal lawsuit in February 2007 after a judge dismissed her 
small-claims court case when she refused to remove a head and face veil.

Valentine's husband, Omar Hall, said his wife was accompanying her nephew to a 
traffic citation hearing when officials stopped her at the metal detector and 
told her she would not be allowed in the courtroom with the head scarf, known 
as a hijab.

Hall said Valentine, an insurance underwriter, told the bailiff that she had 
been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be a 
religious violation. When she turned to leave and uttered an expletive, Hall 
said a bailiff handcuffed her and took her before the judge.



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