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Judge allows Muslim woman to proceed with lawsuit against Ramsey County jail

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A Minnesota woman who said she was forced to remove her hijab in jail will be able to move forward with a lawsuit in federal court.  

Aida Al-Kadi, who is Muslim, alleges that in 2013, she was forced to remove the headscarf for a booking photo at the Ramsey County jail. She had missed a court hearing related to traffic tickets and had turned herself in after a judge put out a warrant for her arrest.

In the lawsuit, Al-Kadi said jail staff singled her out during a pat-down search and forced her to remove the hijab in front of male officers, which is against her beliefs.  

She said she was also forced to take off her abaya, which is a loose-flowing dress, in the presence of one of the male officers. Jail staff gave her a bed sheet to use as a hijab, according to the lawsuit.  

Last week a federal judge ruled she can move forward with her federal lawsuit against Ramsey County. Al-Kadi is seeking $300,000 in damages. Her attorney Caitlinrose Fisher said Al-Kadi is a devout Muslim who wants to protect others who wear the hijab from similar treatment in jail.

  Ramsey County has since changed its policies to allow inmates to wear the hijab while in custody. They followed Hennepin County, which in 2014 announced inmates would be allowed to wear religious head coverings in jail.   

Both jails now allows for two photographs to be taken: one in which the inmate is wearing the hijab, and a second in which the inmate is not wearing it.