On Monday night, NYPD officers reportedly detained four teens in a Bronx park, and during the process, the officers forcibly removed two Muslim girls’ hijabs.
Sisters, 12-year old Lamis and 14-year old Khalia, were playing at their neighborhood park when two officers told the girls to leave. As reported, when the teenage girls went to exit the park, the officers followed and attacked them, forcefully bringing them to the ground. While on the ground, the officers “ripped off” both of the girls’ hijabs.
In an attempt to come to the girls’ aid, their brother and a young college student, who tried to film the incident, were also violently detained.
A police source said that the children were “acting disorderly” as they left the park and that the college student grabbed one of the girls from the “escorting” officers.
Regardless of the truth of that account, the fact that the officers removed the hijabs proves problematic for the NYPD. First, it leads one to question underlying intent of the officers for targeting these young girls. Second, the officers’ unconsented removal of the girls’ religious attire is an assault on the girls’ religious expression, and the vehement acts may be a violation of the girls’ First Amendment rights to both free speech and free exercise of religion.