Woman Sues NYPD Over Veilless Mug Shot

     BROOKLYN (CN) – A Muslim woman’s civil rights were trampled when she was forced to remove her jihab to take a mug shot following a spat with a neighbor over a parking spot, she claims in Federal Court.
     Mervat Soliman and her son Mohammed Soliman sued the City of New York and its police department Monday in Eastern New York district court.
     The saga began in January, when Mervat Soliman pulled up to park in a spot her husband had saved for her in front of their Ridgewood, N.Y., home.
     But her neighbor snagged the spot, flipped her off, called her an “asshole” and a “terrorist,” and told her to go back to her own country, according to the 25-page complaint. The neighbor then got out of her car and knocked Soliman out, she claims.
     Police then showed up and arrested Soliman, according to the lawsuit. She also claims an officer removed her veil.
     During questioning, she asked for something to cover her hair and a nurse brought her a pillowcase, the lawsuit states. An officer then demanded that a female nurse barge into the bathroom Soliman was using to seize her, catching her “with her pants down” and leaving her feeling “violated and exposed,” according to the complaint.
     She says she was then taken to the precinct, where she was searched and forced to cut the collar of her shirt with a pair of scissors.
     Soliman, a diabetic woman who suffers from arthritis and hypertension, was then allegedly photographed with the pillowcase over her head. Her pleas to cover her neck and chest as part of her religion were ignored, she claims.
     She was “placed in a cell for several hours without food, heat or her veil,” according to her lawsuit. Soliman claims she was then taken back to the hospital after feeling dizzy with chest pains. She got her veil back but was forced by officers to remove it again for another mug shot, the complaint states.
     “This is America, we don’t care,” an officer told her when she objected while getting her picture taken without a veil, Soliman claims.
     She says she pleaded to have a female officer take her picture in a private room, but her requests were ignored.
     “Instead, Mervat’s photograph was taken in the well of central booking in plain sight of multiple male officers and staff,” the complaint states.
     The NYPD should have known of the violations to her constitutional rights by forcing her to remove her religious attire, her lawsuit claims.
     All criminal charges of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and harassment against her were ultimately dismissed, Soliman says.
     However, her neighbor, who is not a party to the lawsuit but has an alleged history of spitting on Soliman and verbally assaulting her, wasn’t done. The neighbor filed a restraining order against Soliman’s son because he had made fun of her, according to the complaint.
     Her son was arrested and put “at the mercy of bigots and Islamophobes who at any time can invoke his arrest,” the lawsuit states.
     Soliman seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations and an order declaring that forcing her to remove her scarf violated her constitutional rights. She also wants a “comprehensive plan” for officers to follow when dealing with Muslims. Soliman and her son are represented by Tahanie Aboushi in New York City.
     The NYPD declined to comment on the pending litigation Tuesday morning.

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