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VIDEO: Muslims Claim Police Tore Headscarf Off
April 25, 2006

CHICAGO -- Chicago-area Muslims were flooding Arlington Heights town officials with protest calls Tuesday night, demanding police officers be given cultural sensitivity training after a Muslim woman's headscarf was ripped off by officers during an October immigration rights protest.

Rehana Khan was arrested in October 2005 while demonstrating in Arlington Heights in support of immigrant rights.

"It was during her arrest that her scarf, her hijab or headscarf, was pulled off her head by one of the police officers, yanked straight off, which for a Muslim woman is synonomous with having a blouse ripped off her back," said Ahmed Rehab, the woman's attorney. "It is a forced state of nudity."

"We believe that her religious rights were violated during her arrest," he added.

Khan was one of four defendants who appeared in court Tuesday, charged with battery and resisting arrest. The four were part of a peaceful protest that turned confrontational with Arlington Heights police.

Police say the group was blocking the entrance to a meeting of a group called the Minutemen, a group against illegal immigration, and they didn't obey orders to move.

Police said Khan hit a female officer and tried to break free while being arrested. Khan alleges that police handcuffed her and then ripped off her headscarf.

Arlington Heights police said Khan's headscarf was removed during processing to check for weapons and is standard operating procedure.

All four defendants pleaded guilty to the battery charges in exchange for having the resisting arrest charges dropped.

They told reporters after their court appearance that court supervision for a year and 240 hours of community service is a small price to pay for the important message that they hope to send.

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