Knoxville/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 20, 2024
Knox County Sheriff's Office Accused of Infringing Muslim Woman's Religious Freedoms After University of Tennessee Protest ArrestSource: Google Street View

In the wake of recent arrests at the University of Tennessee, the Knox County Sheriff's Office has come under scrutiny for allegedly violating the religious freedoms of a Muslim woman. Layla Soliz, a demonstrator arrested for her participation in a pro-Palestinian protest, claims that deputies forced her to remove her hijab for a booking photo, igniting concerns about the intersection of religious rights and law enforcement practices. "As a Muslim woman it is a major violation," Soliz said on the verge of tears in an interview with Knox News.

This is not an isolated incident, with similar cases resulting in legal action and settlements in the past. The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) successfully litigated a lawsuit against Yonkers Police Department, resulting in a $175,000 award in 2020 for removing religious headcoverings. Additionally, earlier this year, CAIR settled for $17.5 million with New York City over a case where two women were forced to remove their hijabs by police. “The president’s words have gotten better in the past few weeks, but his policy is not fundamentally changed, and that’s the problem.” Edward Mitchell, national deputy director of CAIR, told theGrio.

Religious persecution is not unique to the United States. International attention has been called to the plight of the Baha'i minority in Yemen, where UN experts have demanded the release of detained followers by the Houthi rebels. According to the experts, the released detainees faced very strict conditions including prohibitions against communicating with other Baha'is and engaging in any Baha'i activities. The remaining detainees are allegedly at serious risk of torture and other human rights violations, including acts tantamount to enforced disappearance, as stated in an AP News report.