Oklahoma judge dismisses case over Muslim woman’s headscarf
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A judge in Oklahoma has dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought on behalf of a Muslim woman who alleges she was denied entry into the Tulsa County Courthouse because of her religious headscarf.
U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan on Tuesday dismissed claims that the Tulsa County Sherriff’s Office and four deputies violated the First Amendment and the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act.
Suha Elqutt said she was refused entry to the courthouse last April when metal detectors were set off by a hairpin under her hijab.
The suit alleges officers insisted Elqutt remove her headscarf in front of male sheriff’s deputies in violation of her religious beliefs. Elqutt entered the courthouse after two female deputies inspected her hair in a parking garage.
Eagan noted in her opinion and order that deputies had a legitimate concern that Elqutt could have been carrying a weapon when she repeatedly set off a metal detector.
“Even if the plaintiff is correct that she had a right to a religious accommodation, the facts alleged in her complaint show that defendants did attempt to accommodate the plaintiff’s religious beliefs,” Eagan wrote.
The suit was presented last May in Tulsa federal court on Elqutt’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation and the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The judge dismissed the suit without prejudice, leaving Elquitt with a chance to refile the lawsuit. Elqutt’s attorney said they are exploring options for an appeal.
Casey Roebuck, TCSO spokeswoman, said Wednesday that a private screening area is now available at the Tulsa County Courthouse. The private screening area was set up about a month after the incident, Roebuck said.