(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/25/2019) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the Tennessee Department of Correction's decision to take corrective action to address civil rights violations committed by a correctional officer against a Muslim American visitor who was ejected from the facility after refusing to remove her hijab (Islamic head scarf) in the presence of a male officer.
Earlier this month, CAIR’s Georgia chapter (CAIR-Georgia) learned that a Muslim grandmother who was visiting the Northeast Correctional Complex had been ejected from the facility by an Officer Tressler, who insisted she remove her hijab and pass it through a metal detector. The woman had never been forced to do so during her prior visits to the facility.
The Muslim woman offered to remove her hijab privately in the presence of a female officer who was also there, but Tressler refused to approve her request. He then ejected her from the building and refused to provide his name. Another officer provided Tressler's last name.
After CAIR-Georgia and CAIR National called on the jail to uphold the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, legal counsel for the Department agreed to permit female visitors who cover their hair for religious reasons to remove their scarves outside the presence of male officers.
“We thank the Tennessee Department of Correction for addressing the concerns we raised about mistreatment of a Muslim American woman who visited the jail,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia. “The First Amendment does not end at the walls of a prison. Even there, every American has the right to freely and safely practice his or her faith."
The Washington-based civil rights organization offers an educational toolkit, called "A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help correctional officers and administrators gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
SEE: A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-GA Executive Director Edward Mitchell, email@example.com, 404-285-9530; CAIR National Staff Attorney Ankur Sakaria, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-516-4722; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com