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Muslim defendant can sue over hijab removal
by Bob Egelko
A law guaranteeing religious freedom to prisoners applies to a courthouse holding cell where sheriff's deputies ordered a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 11-0 decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit by Souhair Khatib against Orange County, where officers made her take off her hijab for security reasons while she was held in the cell to await a court hearing.
The law, passed by Congress in 2000, prohibits the government from imposing a "substantial burden" on prisoners' religious practices unless officials can show a compelling need for the restrictions.
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