ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. – A 24-year-old Muslim woman has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery after a clash with Arlington Heights police last year at an immigration rights demonstration.
Rehana Khan’s case prompted outrage among some Muslims after the Chicago woman claimed police tore off her religious headscarf, or hijab, when they arrested her at the rally on Oct. 15.
“It is very disrespecting,” Khan said.
Three others – Eric Zenke, 18, Kara Norlander, 24 and Cynthia Gomez, 28, all from Chicago – were also charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and resisting arrest. After all four pleaded guilty on Tuesday to battery, the resisting arrest charge was dropped.
A Rolling Meadows judge sentenced Kahn and the three other defendants each to 240 hours of community service and a year of court supervision. They also had to pay court fees. They had faced a maximum sentence of a year in jail.
Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, condemned the actions of the three officers involved.
“She attempted to appeal to the officers to allow her to keep … her head scarf on, and they asked her to ‘remove that thing off your head,’ dismissing her religious concern for maintaining her religious clothing,” he said.
But Arlington Heights police defended its officers.
“She socked one officer on the side of his face and hit the other two in the shoulders,” said Capt. Jerry Lambert. “A female was patting her down and touching the scarf on her head when it slipped off two or three inches off her head.”
He added that a department inquiry found officers followed proper procedures.
“We would do the same thing if it happened today or tomorrow,” Lambert said.
“We’re pleased with the way our officers responded.”
Copyright © 2006, Associated Press