April 15, 2021

As’Salaamu Alaikum Community Members, 

Ramadan Mubarak! May this time be one of good health and spiritual abundance.  

This past month, CAIR-SFBA’s legal team assisted clients through consultations and direct legal services for issues including civil rights and immigration concerns. To date this year, we have supported over 140 individuals. 

One major issue in the past month involved a priority area for the entire CAIR network, religious accommodations in jails and prisons. In a local case, a woman who sought help during a domestic dispute was herself arrestedShe was taken to the Main Jail in San Jose where she was to be searched and photographed. Once there, the woman was forced to remove her hijab during the process of obtaining booking photos. 

The woman informed officers that her hijab was worn for religious purposes and that it should not be removed in the presence of men. Her protestations were ignored. She further requested that her hijab be replaced and this request was also ignored. She eventually resorted to using her sweater to cover her head during the booking process.  

She was later transferred to the Elmwood Correctional facility in Milpitas, where her clothes including her sweater were taken away and replaced with jail clothes. Being left without a head covering again, she was provided with a second shirt to cover her head upon request. After being released from Elmwood, her hijab was still not returned to her.  

In response to this incident, CAIR-SFBA attorneys have filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office, demanding that an apology be immediately issued to the woman, a meeting be facilitated with the officers involved, cultural and religious competency training be mandated, and an immediate change in official policy relating to religious head coverings be made.  

CAIR-SFBA attorneys are now working with the Sheriff’s Office and County counsel to come to an agreement which ensures that no other American Muslims’ constitutional rights are violated while in law enforcement custody in this manner. 

If you have not already emailed the Sheriff and County Supervisors to express your concerns about this incident, please do so. It is important that they understand the gravity of this incident for our community.  

And as always, the CAIR-SFBA team is here to protect and empower you and your family. If you find yourself a target of discrimination and harassment while traveling, at your workplace, at healthcare facilities, and on school premises, please reach out to us through our incident report form 

Please keep our team and our efforts in your duas during this blessed month.  


Ammad Rafiqi, Esq. 

Civil Rights & Legal Services Coordinator