Woman Jailed For Refusing To Take Off Hijab

Lisa was jailed for refusing to take off hijab in court/AP image
Lisa Valentine was jailed for refusing to take off hijab in court/AP image

A city judge in Georgia has in the past eight days barred two Muslim women wearing Islamic headscarves from entering his courtroom, jailing one, and prompting an inquiry from the civil rights office at the US department of justice.

Judge Keith Rollins of Douglasville, Georgia, yesterday ordered Lisa Valentine, 41, to jail after she refused to remove her scarf before entering the courtroom, citing rules governing appropriate dress. Last week, Sabreen Abdulrahmaan was forced to leave Rollins’s court before her son’s probation hearing because she would not remove her scarf.

“It’s a religious right,” Valentine said. “It’s our constitutional right that we can have our religious practices, no matter if it’s a courtroom or not. He’s supposed to be handing out justice, not taking away civil rights.”

Valentine said she sought to accompany her nephew to a traffic hearing yesterday but was told by a court security officer that she could not enter the courtroom with her headscarf on. She said she refused to remove it and turned to leave, saying, “This is bullshit”.

Security officers handcuffed her and brought her before Rollins, who sentenced her to 10 days in jail when she declined to defend her actions at the security checkpoint, her husband Omar Hall said. Valentine, an insurance underwriter, was forced to take off the scarf and don an orange jumpsuit, chained and put aboard a jail bus with men and women.

“It felt like I was naked, because that’s how I feel without my hijab,” Valentine said. “You could have taken off my clothes and it would have felt the same way.”

Her husband phoned an Islamic civil rights organisation and sought an attorney, and she was released without explanation after about seven hours.

“Judge Keith Rollins has inexplicably, blatantly usurped our innate human rights as American citizens,” Hall said.

Douglasville police told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Valentine was jailed for violating a policy barring headgear in the court. Neither court officials nor the police department returned calls seeking comment. Reached by the Associated Press, Rollins declined to comment on Valentine’s case.

“It’s an issue of religious freedom, it’s an issue of access to the American legal system,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic civil rights advocacy group, which advised Valentine and Hall on the case. “There are all kinds of implications that you can take form this troubling incident.”

The US department of justice is reviewing the matter, according to spokesman Jamie Hais. Hooper said that Eric Treene, special council for religious discrimination at the justice department’s civil rights division, was examining the case.

Valentine’s case was Rollins’s second dispute with a hijab-clad woman in a week. Last week, Abdulrahmaan, a 55-year-old community organiser, went to Douglasville municipal court to observe her son’s probation hearing. Security officers outside the courtroom initially denied her entry, saying Rollins does not allow scarves in the courtroom. She made it into the courtroom, but once inside a bailiff motioned for her to remove her scarf. She told him she was a Muslim, but then left when he started to approach her.

“There are a lot of prejudices here,” Abdulrahmaan said. News of Valentine’s case, “just sent my blood pressure all the way up”.

Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the matter does not merely affect Muslims.

“What if you’re a Jewish man wearing a skull cap? What if you’re a Catholic nun wearing a habit?” Hooper asked. “All would be denied access to this judge’s courtroom. We need to know what’s going here and why this has apparently been going on for so long.”

Courtesy of The Guardian



  1. This is just simply shocking and appauling.

    Can you imagine if this was to happen in the UK?

    So what about those stupid wigs that Judges and Barristers wear ? and those black flowing gowns….that would grace Dracula’s…personna.?

    ..and then we as democrats…fall into a state of paranoia and confusion….as three British Muslim school girls….leave for ISIS.

    ..and young men of good faith and families….become executioners.

    Is me thats gone nuts…or the world?

  2. I have read about a similar incident in Canada, where a Muslim woman in hijab, seeking the release of her vehicle from the authorities, was refused hearing until she removed her hijab….Again, it was the “law” on dress code that was cited by the judge…

    Although the “law” can be an “ASS” sometimes, and I think it is in this case, I do belief that this law has been in existence for a long time without much effect on hijab wearing women…

    The fact that it is being used now, would seem to suggest that these judges are not immune from the rising levels of prejudice against Faith in general, and faith based/related activities that we see in our world today …We see these in our schools, in our work places, in public places, in public discussion forums, etc..

    This trend is unlikely to change any time soon because more and more “secularists” (twins of extremists), who are anti-faith/organised religion, are gaining prominent roles in decision making/opinion shaping organs, organisations and institutions that “run” our world today…

    And they are gradually succeeding in imposing their world views on the whole of humanity, through various subtle means and methods..That is why I think the world is gone “nuts” and unless this trend is checked and halted, like a “nutter”/madman, the world will endanger/harm itself through never ending conflict…

    People of faith must not just be content with the roles of “watching” and protesting against extremism within and without (civil society), but must become, as well as seek, active roles in the decision making and opinion shaping organs and institutions to protect their rights to unfettered Freedom of worship…Otherwise, our religious freedoms will continue to be assaulted in subtle and not so obvious ways, until religious practice becomes difficult for believers…

  3. The good thing, though, about Western Societies is that there is always an avenue for redress and I am certain that this new interpretation of this law will be subjected to much legal debate to determine whether it curtails freedom of worship by its inclusion of the hijab and other religious dress forms…

    I can’t imagine this sort of thing happening in the UK and if it does happen here, then.the world would have really gone “bunkers” and “rabid mad” because this country is second to none in tolerance and sensible governance…

  4. Bax, thast a broad and sweeping statement about the UK {tolerance and good governence}

    I have been doing research on the plight of illegal African immigrants for the last 5 years. During the course of my work, the thread inevitably lead to the situation concerning African women who are also Hiv Positive.

    The first line of enquiry was regarding those with Hiv who had fled Africa, primarily to escape the “harsh” community stigma they encountered and the cost of Hiv medication, its availability and its reliability.

    Stigma was a common factor, which left the victim in grave danger from a backlash from relitives and there communities.

    Medication was available, but anonimity during treatment { the right to privacy} was sadly lacking.

    Reliability and quality of the medication was of a basic standard, with little or no access to specific medication that targeted the type of hiv condition aquired.

    The cost of medication varied and for most was out of reach to the limited incomes of those affected.

    Once entering the UK by what ever method { and there were several}

    Those fortunate to make it to the UK were given free medication and treatment of the highest standard…by the NHS.

    I followed my enquiries right up to The Minister for Immigration, Mr James Brokenshaw MP

    He wrote back..to explain Asylum seekers, are given treatment at point of need without charge. He further explained that where special medical needs are required this is given along with furnished accmodation and a form of financial support and of course access to legal representation.

    This was reassureing.

    However those without a valid asylum claim { illegal } are given free medication and treatment…and limited legal representation, but no housing or financial support.

    There case is argued under human rights. I spoke to one London lawyer representing a client…to find her case was weak and had little chance of success. This was typical of such cases which I found distressing.

    For if this person/s was to find an income from any form of work, her claim and position would be classed as being fraud and leave that person liable to detention and deportation with only a very limited right of appeal.

    Looking closer, it was not unusual to find these people, sleeping in church’s, railway stations and even under bridges, left at the mercy of crime and people who would missuse there vulnerability.

    The work of charities in these cases is highly commendable. Most do give some form of cash gift generally around £20..and ongoing support and advice.

    I found some if not the majority, were left in a position where they were able to find work { using dubious and illegal means } as carers to our sick, old and mentally ill at starvation wages, as being further exploited by unscrupulous agencies, connected or contracted to the local authorites or private residential care homes.

    This is a multi facited scandel.

    I found a general consensus from each victim,,,,that pleaded..

    ” Look I am not a scrounger, I can work, I want to work..all I want is an equal chance to make a living and keep my dignity. I am a good person, I have never been in trouble, my family brought me up to be independant. I do not deserve to be treated so badly by the law in this country, I have done nothing wrong ”

    All I want to do is live ”

    My work continues.

  5. Mike and Bax, thanks for highlight of western societies tolerance , good governance and openness . There will be redress to such actions as they always update and change laws to be all inclusive . Imagine if one attempt to build a church in Saudi Arabia or even try to find a decent job in that country ?
    Tolerance of western societies in helping immigrants all over the world cannot be over emphasized .
    Here is story :
    I was talking with a friend who is a Muslim and we are discussing democracy and human rights in western societies especially USA , he was quick to mention how wonderful life is in Saudi arabia , I quickly reminded him that , if life is very great in Saudi , why do you come to USA ? He kept quite for two minutes and said to be honest , my first child was born in Saudi but he is not consider a citizen even though I was legal resident but I was never accorded citizenship . Then I told him , that alone tell you they are very intolerance and discriminate against other people .
    My point is that in as much as western societies tend to have old laws , they are better in respecting human rights and rule of law . Such laws are open to debate and put to a vote or change by people’s representatives . We Africans will be better off in our association with west than so called Arab countries where you have corrupt and brutal dictators who doesn’t care about human rights of anyone . Most Arab countries careless about General well being of immigrants especially Africans . This is clearly evidence by the abuse and brutality these immigrants face daily in places like Saudi Arabia and else where .

  6. Maxs,

    This is what I term as “modeling”. It can also be closley linked to “credit scoring”

    Bax gives a common perception that, In western societies if all else fails….the victim still has recourse to the law, to argue that persons rights. This is a model within itself.

    Your Saudi friends story is a similar case in point, where his perception is everything was good, but on closer inspection…all was not good.

    I have no doubt that if your friend fitted the Model of what Saudi society stands for….for example ..being male, middle class, and healthy. his life would be good and fit the Model the state supports.

    The difficulty arrises, when a person does not fit the societies “model”

    An extreme example of this was in Nazi Germany. The Third Reich, had an objective to in breed a race of blond and blue eyed people.

    If you were a Jew for example….you were classed as vermin. { Where have we heard that just lately ?}

    My story highlights people who are sick or have a medical disability. and or….are less protected by the police and the law.


    Attached to a dubious legal position as befits the current law in the UK.

    The same can be said of someone who has a social stigma attached to there lifestyle..such as being Gay.

    While Britain backs the rights of Gays…under its support of human rights….It is perplexing to note that 92% of asylum claims under the model of being Gay…are refused.

    Where as those asylum claims under the accepted model or credit score, have a rejection rate of only 47%

    So clearly the UK….is guilty of modeling.

    The UK have also been making entry into the UK much more difficult since 2008. The reduction of access to legal aid, is very noticeable, to the point where I found evidence that funding is reduced or restricted to those cases where on face value the case is weak or has little merit.

    Unless you have a skill or a degree in a particular need in the UK employment market…..or have at least £65,000….Your “credit score” for entry….falls foul of the preferred model.

    Taking an overall view;

    Bad government policy decisions taken by African governments, has a cost.

    Where an African citizen faces life and death situations in the countries or communities….and run to the West for relief, It is the Western societies and ultimatey the tax payer who foots the bill for medical, social housing, legal fees and policing….and in certain “models”…financial support.

    What I have found….is that The British do have excellent support networks that can catch those falling into this “poverty trap”

    This again…is yet another “model”

    I have several case studies to back up my claims. I will continue to raise these issues with Government.


  7. Mike….

    No place is perfect but I think the United Kingdom is second to none, in tolerance and sensible governance….You can quite easily see that in the make up of UK society and how everyone fitted in, as much as possible, until now….

    This is because no people are immune from agenda driven information dissemination campaign, and unfortunately, the (main) global media houses have abandoned old fashioned journalism and have become agenda driven “news” outlets. ..Their favourite agenda being immigration, which is often reported in manners that do not reflect the real stories and often portrays immigration in the worst ways possible…

    And we see the effects of this type of sensational agenda driven “news” in the changing perception of immigration and immigrants, even legitimate ones, never mind the “illegals”…

    My attention was drawn to a channel 4 documentary series in Southampton recently, called “Immigration Street”, which was disrupted by residents (Black, white, Asian) because they were convinced that the agenda was to create tensions within the community…This is the real UK minus the anti- immigrants agenda of the media…

    It is very sad that vulnerable people, who are running away from wars, persecution, oppressive regimes and abject poverty and seeking sanctuary in affluent societies, are made to suffer conditions.that are equally as bad, even if to a lesser degree…

    There is nothing worse than being classified as an illegal human being, and denied rights and privileges enjoyed by others..It is degrading, dehumanising and can be a frightening and traumatic experience when children are involved. ..

    Most immigrants want to work (because that’s what they know) to earn their living and contribute to society and in economies that outsource jobs or hire labour from outside, there is room to cater for all…

    Of course, the immigration debate is not wrong, but I think it is anchored around false premises of job shortage, wage under cutting and inadequate or overburdened public facilities, which are a consequence of economic decision making ( ie..cutting spending on public services; investment capital transfer overseas ) and technology advances, rather than migration…

    The works of good people like yourself must continue because the phenomenon of migration, which is as old as human civilisation itself, will not go away any time soon…The sooner the governments acknowledge this reality and start to work collectively and sincerely to combat the factors that cause mass migrations, the better for us all…

    It goes without saying that generally, people are more comfortable in the environments they know..Migration is not a luxury for many such people…It is a necessity for survival and better livelihood, which is the aspirations of all human beings…

  8. Mike. ..

    The changes in the law or the “models” you mentioned, are a very good example of the results of agenda driven “news”…

    Because this sort of “news” and programmes change public perception..

    And politicians, who make the rules, react to changes in Public perception because they need the votes…

    That is why we see the constant amendments of Immigration Laws because Immigration is at the fore front of the battle to win votes…

    The Labour Party is almost left behind in this fiercely fought “battle” between the Tories and the new darlings in town, UKIP…

    The Lib-Dems are almost redundant…

  9. Bax…your wisdom and “local knowlege” is true, objective and none abrasive. You have only re-written most eloquently…what my basic grammer.. and experience.has confirmed.

    You have moved the debate….upto another level with its political perspectives.

    You will recall….the imfamous proclamation many years ago by Enoch Powell….”Rivers of blood ”

    To date…it has never happened….and even with the modern phenomomen of urban terrorism…and the imported and divisive agenda, its actions are intended to generate within Britain. I believe that British society even with its ever increasing multi cultural and ethnic additions, will grow stronger in its resolve to absorb such negative tensions.

    There is no alternative.

    I am now 65. I guess if you were to enter this debate at any time over the last 40 years….The faces, of leadership have changed, but the guiding political beliefs of our main parties have not.

    In my lifetime….The Conservatives and Labour have been elected on a manifesto that was based upon what they would give to the electorate.

    Since 2008 and since the banking crash and austerity….the fate of the main parties will be elected on what they promise not to take back.

    The Lib/ Dems made { in my opinion} the right decision to form a government with the Tories….For without there imput and restraint,on the Tories. The poorest in our society would now have been reduced to third world status. Unfortunatley…the Lib/Dems will face extinction, through a loss of the values and identy suffered as a result.

    UKIP…have rode there luck by energising and redirecting public disquiet against immigration and the European Union. You would appreciate, the British mindset….that we love to back the underdogs. It is our nature.

    The biggest worry to early to assess….. is the impact The Scottish National Party may have after the May Elections.

    The British are historically….an isolationist nation full of self reliance, and strength born out of victory over Germany in two world wars….and earlier against the French and Spanish.

    To put this in coloqueial terms….we think we are the” dogs bollocks”

    As I speak to my African friends who are now here in the UK….the consensus, suggests they were surprised that the British rank and file, are no less challenged by our hard earned lifestyle, that is taxed from morning until daybreak. Life for some in the UK comes with shock, at its fast pace, and never ending need to pay bills and stand in queues.

    I much preferred Gambia….where £20 can last a week….and lifes pressures….are left in the Hands of God.

    These days, the Brits continue to colonise the world as free citizens.

    Those who can…find greener pastures. Those who can’t do the lottery every week…..

    and those like me….envy people like you with the strength and ambition….to make the world better.


  10. The problem with Europe and uk immigration policies is that there is not sufficient assimilation process compare to USA where immigrants are easily assilimated . Being an American is an idea or concept which most immigrants adopt quickly because it has to do with cultural values of individual freedom , liberty , pursuit of happiness and personal responsibility . This is why when immigrants enter USA , they are given work permit to work hard for their lives with complete freedom and pursuit their dreams. However , in Europe , some immigrants are restricted at asylum camps ( refuge camps ) without allowing them to learn the culture and values of those countries . Lack of assimilation in those countries lead immigrants into illegal activities such as drug dealings and terrorism . In uk , lack of assimilation lead Muslim immigrants to be radicalized and joined terrorist organizations compared to USA where there is high sense of assimilation . In terms of job opportunities , immigrants in USA tends to have jobs in high positions compare to Europe or uk . This is evidence by having some US state governors and representatives in high positions which are immigrants .. I think USA being a land of immigrants from all over the world clearly make lot of progress in that regards . In every walks of life in USA , most politicians , top businessmen , academics were immigrants or from immigrants background . It is the melting pot . Lack of job opportunities in uk or Europe result to some immigrants to go back to their countries when they finish their studies . Example is some Gambian immigrants in uk , who they finished their education , it is extremely difficult to find a better paying job than the ones they were doing when they are going to university . As a result , lot of them return to Gambia unwillingly to find better job which suit their educational needs . The other reasons to return is to serve ones country.Though uk is also much better in assimilation than other European countries . I think this problem of assimilation also has to do with smaller nature of uk and some European countries compare to USA which is bigger country with large job market . Immigrants Assimilation encourages multiculturalism and diversity . It also help to bring greater understanding and appreciation of adopted countries vaules and that of the country of immigrants .

  11. Mike : ” I much preferred Gambia .. Where 20 pounds can last a week and life’s pressure are left in the hands of God” .,
    I think the last part ” life’s presure are left in the hands of God ” is where our main problem lies as Gambians or Africans for that matter . Because it make us to believe that our problem lies with God and therefore everything that happens , it is God’s will . That is where our obsession with God or religion comes to play. It simply make us not think to use our brain to solve our problems . In the western societies , that kind of thinking doesn’t exist because majority believe that individual has personal responsibility to solve their problems . This is not say that they don’t believe in God . But our Believe system are very different and how we perceive things . In our Gambian context , God is the cause of all our problems and that is why when you talk to a lot of Gambians today about dictatorship in our country , they will say “God put Jammeh in power and when the God’s time is up he is going to leave” . Who can argue with that statement ? I think our main problem lies with lack of understanding of God and our purpose in life . Until then our “life’s pressure are left in the hands of God ” as we said in Gambia ( land of dictator Jammeh ).

  12. Maxs,

    Thats an interesting hypothosis, that our immigration system breeds terrorists and drug dealers. Especially in light of recent events.

    So are you saying the US has no terrorists or drug dealers?

    I don’t like that word “Assimilation”

    Sounds like a scene out of a Hollywood science fiction movie…churning out model Obama’s on a conveyor belt…

    WE have the Daleks…..but we also have Dr Who.

    We always defeat dem pesky machines.

    We will exterminate !!!!

    We will exterminate !!!!

    Yeh…sure …lol

  13. Mike . USA have immigrants who are drug dealers and terrorists but when you compare it to uk or Europe , you will notice that you have far too many in uk and Europe than USA . Except those from southern border with USA , that is those from South American countries where drug dealing is huge business . American Muslims are more assimilated into American society than British Muslims or European muslims . Far few American Muslims are going to Syria than uk or European Muslims according to recent news report . Few years ago , I think it was tony Blair who talked about uk multiculturalism and better opportunities for Muslims and immigrants populations in Europe . I thought at the time , that was good strategy because most of these terrorists are hopeless people who are easily sway by foolish ideology which has nothing to do with Islam . Assimilation is the solution to current recruitment and I think USA is doing good job it that . I hardly see any Gambian thinking of packing leaving for Jammeh’s Gambia . Most immigrants I came across especially Asians and Europeans , they assimilate easily in USA .

  14. Maxs….

    As a former Chairman of 5 very successful and profitable limited companies….

    I was happy to take on new staff when business was good….but always in the back of my mind was….

    What happens to all these staff when business is bad ?

    I still have to pay them.

    The same applies to the UK and immigration forced upon us from the EU

    We have plenty of jobs just now and the welfare budget is easily accomodated.

    But what happens when the economy downturns …as it must.

    How do do pay for those thrown out of work?

    The same applies to the US….and its “southern influx of immigrants”

    This live today and to hell about tomorrow….is a dangerous game.