The Justice Department announced Tuesday the government's civil rights lawyers have jumped into a legal case to support a Muslim girl's right to wear a head scarf in a public school.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Alex Acosta said government lawyers would support 11-year-old Nashala Hearn, a sixth-grade student who has sued the Muskogee, Oklahoma, Public School District for ordering her to remove her head scarf, or hijab, because it violated the dress code of the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy, which she attended.
The girl continued to wear her hijab to school and was subsequently suspended twice for doing so. The family appealed the suspensions, which were upheld by a district administrative hearing committee.
Her parents filed suit against the Muskogee School District last October.
On Tuesday the federal government filed a motion in a federal court in Muskogee to intervene in support of Nashala's position...
The Council on American-Islamic Relations -- which has often been critical of the Bush administration's policies -- praised the government's support in the case.
"This moves comes in a time when the Muslim community feels like they are being singled out and their civil rights threatened," a statement from the group said.
"The news also sends out a message to the international community, especially some European countries where the wearing of the head scarf is being banned, that America will defend its citizens' religious freedoms..."