A Muslim female inmate at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia has allegedly been denied the right to wear a hijab, a headbag worn by many Muslim women.
Charleston City Paper Nadhira Al-Khalili, national legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that on Dec. 31, corrections officers forced a woman to remove her hijab for a booking photograph and then did not allow her to wear it while she was incarcerated. CAIR sent a letter to the S.C. Department of Corrections early last week requesting that the agency obey the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act, which protects religious practices in prisons.
The hijab is a matter of modesty, and some Muslims believe that the hadiths, or sayings of the prophet Muhammad, require it. “Hijab is just like any other article of clothing,” Al-Khalili says, “so if you asked a woman to take off her shirt, even if other women are taking off their shirts, if she doesn’t feel comfortable removing that particular article of clothing, it’s going to be a very demeaning and demoralizing experience.”
In other states, laws make specific accommodations for inmates who choose to wear turbans, yarmulkes, and hijabs, and female corrections officers are allowed to take female prisoners into a private room to search their hijabs for contraband.
Al-Khalili, who wears a hijab, says another South Carolina woman contacted her in the fall when she was forced to remove her hijab in a SCDOR facility, but the woman chose not to pursue legal action. In this case, she says CAIR has not yet decided whether to file a lawsuit. “If the Department of Corrections would just contact us, that would certainly save everyone a lot of time and resources, but we haven’t even heard from them yet,” she says.(South Carolina has more important things to worry about like trying to pass anti-sharia legislation)