Khatib v. County of Orange is a lawsuit against the County for forcing a practicing Muslim woman to remove her religious headscarf when she was taken into custody at an OC holding facility.

Souhair Khatib, a practicing Muslim woman who lives in Anaheim, appeared in court to ask for an extension of time to complete community service. Her probation was revoked and she was immediately placed in custody. Sheriffs’ deputies ordered that she remove her hijab. Crying, Mrs. Khatib convinced the deputies to allow her to wear it until she passed the men’s cells. She then removed her hijab, but replaced it with a vest she had been wearing. She was ordered to take the vest off her head, and was ashamed to see her brother-in-law in the courtroom; he had never seen her without the hijab. Mrs. Khatib remained in the jail for processing without her hijab and in view of male inmates and deputies. Despite repeated requests, she was not allowed to wear her hijab until she was released from the building.

Case Developments

March 15, 2011
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) claim, and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.

August 27, 2008
The ACLU filed an appeal on the issue of whether RLUIPA applies to a courthouse holding facility.

July 28, 2008
The case was dismissed.

September 2007
The ACLU SoCal filed suit on behalf of Souhair Khatib.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)


Date filed

September 3, 2007


United States District Court for the Central District of California


Hon. David O. Carter