(CNN)An 18-year-old Muslim woman arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Miami says her hijab was forcibly removed from her head for a booking photograph and she was not allowed to put it back on for several hours.
A Muslim woman says her headscarf was forcibly removed from her head for a booking photo after being arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest
Alaa Massri was arrested at a protest June 10, according to the Miami Police Department, and charged with battery, resisting an officer with violence and disorderly conduct. After her arrest, Massri was taken to the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, where she says she was asked to remove her hijab for a booking photograph, her lawyer Khurrum Wahid told CNN.
Muslim women who choose to wear the headscarf do not take it off in front of men outside of their immediate families.
After advising the officers that the hijab is a part of her religious beliefs and she did not wish to be photographed without it on, it was forcibly removed from her head, Wahid said. She was not allowed to put her hijab back on for what she estimated to be around seven hours.
Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation, the agency responsible for booking and mugshots, did not respond to CNN's repeated requests for comment.
Massri's booking photo, which showed her without her hijab, was then distributed to several news outlets and began circulating on social media, according to Wahid.
"The damage from that cannot be undone," Wahid told CNN. "That photograph is out there forever. This was a humiliating experience for her. Not just the arrest, but that her religious rights were violated."
Wahid filed an inquiry to the Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's legal department, seeking additional information about what happened and the names of the officers involved, but has not received a response, he said Tuesday.
"I'm hoping that they respond to our request, but if they do not we will escalate it beyond basic communications," Wahid told CNN. "We've also made an inquiry with their legal department."
After her hijab was removed for the booking photo, Massri said, she was made to spend hours without her hijab in the presence of multiple men.
This "completely disrespect(ed) her way of life," reads a Change.org petition started by Massri a week ago. "They consciously took away her rights to be a woman practicing Islam and spread an image she never thought would be out in the world."
The petition, which has been signed by more than 125,000 people by Tuesday night, asks for all charges against Massri to be dropped, for her mugshot to be "taken down," and for the officers involved to be investigated.
According to the Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, there are policies in place to protect people who practice religious beliefs.
"Arrestees who claim or appear to be of a particular faith are allowed to keep their head covering once it has been searched for contraband and the booking photograph has been taken," a spokesperson for Miami-Dade Corrections said in a statement to CNN affiliate WSVN.
"We are committed to ensuring that individuals' faith-based beliefs and practices are respected and will review this incident to ensure compliance with our policies and this commitment."
However, Massri was not searched in a private room and the hijab was forcibly removed from her head while men were present, a violation of both her privacy and religious freedoms, according to Wahid.
"They should have allowed her to keep her hijab on," Wahid said. "They can easily do a search in a private room with a same-sex officer. There is absolutely no reason not to give her back her hijab after the search or there to be a booking photo without her hijab on. Either the officers ignored the policy in place or the policy is simply not strong enough."