A Muslim woman won $120,000 after accusing Minneapolis corrections officers of forcing her to take off her hijab and giving her a bedsheet instead

  • A Muslim woman was awarded a $120,000 payout over her claim that in 2013 she was forced to remove her hijab in front of male officers in violation of her faith.
  • 57-year-old Aida Shyef al-Kaldi says she was mistreated by officers at a jail in Ramsey County, Minnesota, who gave her a bedsheet as a replacement headscarf.
  • A court awarded al-Kaldi her payout in a deal that meant the Ramsey County jail system did not formally accept that al-Kaldi’s claim is true.
  • Nonetheless, official agreed to provide training to corrections officers on how to better treat female Muslim detainees.

A Muslim woman was awarded a $120,000 settlement in late November, settling a six-year legal battle over her claim that corrections officers in a Minneapolis jail forced her to take off her hijab for a booking photo and gave her a bedsheet for a replacement.

Aida Shyef al-Kaldi, 57, was awarded the payout by a US District Court in Minnesota. The award was made in late November but only made public this week, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.

Officials in the Ramsey County correctional system also agreed to change their procedures for female Muslin inmates and retrain their staff.

al-Kaldi claims that during a 2013 booking into jail, she was forced to take off her hijab in front of a male officer, in violation of a common Islamic belief that women should keep their hair covered in the presence of men.

Although she was awarded a payout after her legal claim, the settlement does not require that corrections officials admit wrongdoing, which means her account must still be reported as an allegation.

She was asked, she says, to expose her face to take a bookings photograph during a voluntarily jail booking to explain why she missed a court date for a traffic offense.

al-Kaldi says that after the removal of her hijab, an officer gave her a bedsheet to use as a replacement. She says that when she complained she was kept in a cell for 23 hours for her “argumentative behaviour.”

Months later, al-Kaldi’s photograph was found on a third-party website even after she was told it would never be made public, according to the Guardian.

In an interview from 2016, al-Kaldi said that during the booking she was asked for her place of birth, but that officials did not believe her when she said she was born in Ohio.

al-Kaldi argued in her lawsuit that the county discriminated against her for her religious beliefs and violated her constitutional rights.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday alongside her lawyers, al-Kaldi described the ordeal as “one of the most humiliating and harmful experiences of my life.”

The settlement awarded to al-Kaldi, in addition to the $120,000 payout, also requires the county to destroy all physical and electronic copies of the booking photograph photograph.

The report says the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office must also facilitate and implement training for correctional officers on how to accommodate inmates with religious headwear.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Ramsey County board chair Jim McDonough said he believes the “settlement agreement is fair and in the best interests of all of our residents.”

*story by Insider