A Muslim woman who said she was humiliated in a Cuyahoga County court by being forced to remove her head scarf is suing the county and the Sheriff’s Office for violating her civil rights.

Aisha Samad filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Monday arguing that her right to exercise her religious beliefs was ignored there two years ago. She is seeking $125,000 in damages and a judge’s order recognizing the right of female Muslims to cover their heads in court.

Samad’s lawyer, Rufus Sims, announced the lawsuit on the steps of the Justice Center Monday afternoon, accompanied by Samad and supporters from the Muslim community.

Samad, a 49-year-old nurse, stepped to a microphone wearing a head scarf called a hajib.

“I ask all of you to take a stand and say my right to cover is equal to your right not to cover,” she said softly.

She was compelled to appear in Common Pleas Court in June 2002 on charges stemming from a child custody feud, charges that were dismissed. She said court officers refused her request to wear a scarf in court despite her pleadings..


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