To Mayor Bill de Blasio:
As a former resident of the wonderfully diverse and open New York City, I was incredibly disappointed to hear about the forced removal of religious head coverings for arrestees. Under the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, Article 18 states that everyone has the right to freedom of religion and to manifest that religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance, Article 5 states that no one shall be subjected to degrading treatment, and Article 1 states that all human beings are born free and equal in both dignity and rights, and we should “act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
You said something similar to NYC citizens on March 15th after the tragic Christchurch attacks, visiting the Muslim community and referring to them as our brothers and sisters and telling them we stand with them in solidarity. You also said, word for word, “We know that in our hour of need, particularly when hate and violence stalk us, that we are protected every day by the men and women of the NYPD. And as I arrived, I saw a strong NYPD presence around this mosque, and that’s true around mosques all over this city. And I want to thank the men and women of the NYPD for their strong show of support protecting this community.” But how is forcing women to remove their hijabs, equivalent to undressing and nudity for them, protecting their community? How is allowing 45-year-old Arwa Aziz to weep as she was forced to remove her hijab in front of dozens of male officers and prisoners a show of support?
Our own constitution, which you are sworn to uphold as an elected official, guarantees freedom of religion and says that no state shall enforce any law which will abridge the privileges or immunities of U.S. citizens. Wearing a head covering is an expression of free religious choice, so the forceful removal of it is a violation of this right and is most definitely harmful to the arrestee’s psyche. The narrative of taking the hijab off not being a big deal since it is oppressive and forced upon women is deeply incorrect; it is a woman’s choice to wear it and for her it represents sanctity, so being forced to remove it is not a violation not only of her rights but her dignity.
We at Freemuslim implore you to be considerate of not only women and Muslims, but of all people of faith. You are meant to represent the people, all of our people, so please step up and take action against this head covering removal requirement. It will grant you a great bout of approval and support from these communities.