Suit over hijab may be settled

Detroit, USA - The federal lawsuit against a local judge who ordered a Muslim woman to remove her religious head covering last fall could be settled by a federal magistrate.

U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani on Wednesday ordered a settlement hearing by a federal magistrate in the case against Wayne County Circuit Judge William Callahan. The longtime judge is being sued by the woman and a local Muslim civil rights organization for allegedly violating her First Amendment rights.

Raneen Albaghdady of Dearborn says her religious rights were violated during a hearing last June when Callahan ordered her to remove her hijab.

"No hats allowed in the courtroom," Callahan told Albaghdady, who went before him for a name-change hearing last year.

Battani is expected to rule following a settlement hearing with Magistrate Virginia M. Morgan.

Callahan has contended that he did not know the head covering was a hijab and that Albaghdady did not tell him it had any religious significance.

Albaghdady, originally from Iraq, was not at Wednesday's hearing.

Farmington Hills attorney Nabih Ayad said Albaghdady did not speak up to the judge because she felt intimidated by his position.

But, said Ayad, the woman's husband told the judge "over and over" that the head covering was a hijab.