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US Muslim woman sues Chicago police for ripping off her hijab


A young Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit against police in Chicago, Illinois, for violating her civil rights after she was mistakenly identified as a terrorist as she was leaving a city subway station last year.

Itemid al-Matar, who sued Chicago police on Thursday, was violently detained and searched by officers after she was spotted wearing a headscarf, face veil and carrying a backpack on July 4, 2015.

Al-Matar says officers violated her civil rights by pulling off her religious head covering as they arrested her on the subway station stairs, then strip-searched her later at a police station.

The lawsuit also accuses the police of using excessive force, false arrest, violation of freedom of religious expression and malicious prosecution.

“Several (officers) ran up the stairs and grabbed the plaintiff and threw her down upon the stair landing, then pulling at her and ripping off her hijab,” according to the federal lawsuit filed in Chicago on her behalf.

The fact that al-Matar was wearing a headscarf, known as a hijab, and the face veil, called a niqab, “was the impetus behind the actions” of the police, the lawsuit says.

A public police report claimed that she was showing suspicious behavior.

However, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) blames the arrest on prevailing Islamophobia and racial profiling in the US.

The “blatant xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racial profiling” underlined the officers’ actions, Phil Robertson, a lawyer for the Chicago chapter of CAIR said in a statement.

Police charged al-Matar with obstructing justice for resisting arrest and refusing to comply with orders. A state court acquitted her on all charges earlier this year.

Thursday’s lawsuit names six officers and the city of Chicago as defendants.

The case comes amid heightened scrutiny of police officers in Chicago and across the country.

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