Valdosta officials say they plan next week to review a policy that prohibited a Muslim woman from wearing her headscarf in municipal court.

Aniisa Karim refused to remove her headscarf when she came to the courtroom of Municipal Court Judge Vernita Lee Bender on June 26th to contest a speeding ticket.

Court officers cited homeland security reasons and said wearing the headscarf would be a sign of disrespect to the judge.

In a statement released Thursday, Valdosta Public Information Officer Sementha Mathews said court officers acted properly, but expressed regret that Karim was offended by the court’s rules and procedures.

When Karim’s experience made news, it generated some anti-Arabic slurs from Internet bloggers.

But Karim is not Arabic.

The lifelong Muslim is African-American, born and raised in Baltimore.

She is a disc jockey for WAAC-FM Country Music Radio in Valdosta.

Karim said, “There are some real misconceptions out there. I saw comments on Web sites like, ‘If you don’t like the rules here, go back home. We don’t try to make rules for Middle Eastern countries.’ But I am an American. This is my home.” . . .

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and attorneys with the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers asserted that the judge’s actions violated Karim’s civil rights.


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