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April 30, 2024 – US university protests

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This screengrab shows a campus police officer removing a hijab off a protester’s head at Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona. Mass Liberation AZ

Video taken over the weekend at Arizona State University shows a campus police officer removing a hijab from a protester’s head during her arrest.

The blurred video, obtained by Mass Liberation AZ and provided to CNN by attorney Zayed Al-Sayyed, who represents the women, shows several ASU Police Department officers surrounding a woman whose hands are held behind her back as one of the officers removes her hijab.

People nearby can be heard yelling, “You’re violating her privacy,” and “Give it back.”

The officers then pull the woman’s sweatshirt hood over her head and a bystander yells, “So she can wear a hood but not her hijab?” At one point one of the officers blocks the woman from the view of those taking the video, as a person yells, “let her go!”

A lawyer representing her and three other women who said it also happened to them is demanding accountability.

Al-Sayyed, who said the arrests took place early Saturday, did not identify the women but indicated that three of them are students at the university and all four are Phoenix-area residents. They are facing criminal trespass charges.

Upon being taken into custody, Al-Sayyed said, the women explained the significance of a hijab and “begged” to keep their hijabs, but he said they were told that their hijabs had to be removed for safety reasons.

“They never expected that an officer … who’s sworn to protect and serve is going to violate their most basic protected right under the United States Constitution, which is the right to practice their religion. So they’re hurt,” Al-Sayyed said.

After being detained and bused to jail, the women were not given their hijabs back, Al-Sayyed said.

Around 15 hours later, when he was finally given access to his clients, Al-Sayyed said he was able to bring them new hijabs.

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ), condemned the university police for the recorded incident and others like it and called for a full investigation.

“This act represents a blatant infringement upon the religious liberties of peaceful protesters. It is profoundly distressing for the affected women, and ASU Police must conduct a thorough investigation into this matter,” Azza Abuseif, executive director of CAIR-AZ, said in an email to CNN.

In a statement to CNN, the university said, “This matter is under review.” CNN has reached out to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for comment.

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