GALVESTON – A woman in court March 15 for a child support hearing said she wound up battling religious oppression from the presiding judge and a court bailiff.
Karwana Boyd said she was wearing a hajib, a headscarf worn as a sign of humility by Muslim women.
Its not a fashion statement, she said.
Boyd was at the Sam Popovich annex, waiting for child support Judge Doretha Henderson, when bailiff Clint Wayne Brown asked her to remove her head covering.
Brown told The Daily News the woman was not wearing a hajib, but a tight headscarf.
Brown asked her to remove the covering, and when she refused, he waited for the judge to arrive.
Judge Henderson, a traveling judge who presides over child support courts in six counties, said Boyd was one of two women in court that day claiming Muslim religious reasons for their headwear.
”I know what a hajib is,” Henderson said, “and this was not a hajib. She said she was Muslim, but was not wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf.”
Henderson and Brown both also denied Boyd’s claim that the woman was threatened with jail over her refusal to remove the headwear.
Boyd said, “He said if I didn’t take it off, I was risking going to jail for violating the courtroom’s rules.
Boyd ultimately addressed the judge directly, and Henderson said she instructed Boyd to wait in the hall until her case was ready.
”That was the extent of our conversation,” Henderson said.
Boyd said she was filing a complaint with the civil rights division of the state attorney general’s office.
”I see this as nothing short of discrimination,” she said.