25-year-old Asiyah was traveling with her family to visit her sister in Bahrain. When they embarked on their journey and went through airport security when Asiyah was stopped by the police at the Heathrow Airport.
The male officers present there asked her to remove her Hijaab because he claimed she was “unidentifiable” with it.
“I have no idea of the positioning of your ears on your face. Like, you might not even have any ears. We don’t know what you look like.”
A Hijaab does not cover a woman’s face. The women that choose to cover their heads are completely identifiable with it on.
When she tried to refuse to remove it they threatened her by saying “You might end up being arrested because you wouldn’t let us take a photograph of your hair”
The officers were well aware that they were discriminating against a woman on the basis of her religion. It’s 2020, they’re aware what a Hijaab is and what it means to Muslim women that choose to wear it.
“For me, it feels the same as if the police has taken a photo of me naked. I felt my dignity had been taken away.”
Despite knowing how wrong they were Asiyah still took off her Hijaab and they took pictures of her. She later revealed that she was scared, that she kept seeing images in her head of her on the floor being handcuffed and arrested if she didn’t comply with their demands – so she gave in.
But she couldn’t stop thinking about the incident. She took the matter to court and the Metropolitan Police admitted that them asking her to remove her Hijaab to photograph her indeed violates her human rights and her right to religious observance.
They ended up settling for £15,000 in damages out of court for the distress they caused Asiyah.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Muslim women all over the world face this all the time. Cases like these have gone to court before and yet it keeps happening. What will it take for people to understand that everyone has a right to dress the way they want, whether it’s to wear a headscarf or to not wear one. No one should be forced to wear or remove anything – especially if their religion is involved.