Schoolgirls wearing hijabs
Muslim women in California allege discriminationEric Gaillard/Reuters

Muslim women's groups in California have filed lawsuits over alleged discrimination against them because of their religion and for wearing a hijab. According to one of the lawsuits, Long Beach police forcibly removed the head scarf of a woman in their police station, AFP reported.

Kirsty Powell, an African American was arrested on two outstanding warrants last year. She alleged that a male police officer forcibly removed her headscarf in front of other male officers and inmates, telling her she was "not allowed to wear a hijab".

She was told that policemen were "allowed to touch women", and as a result she "suffered and continues to suffer extreme shame, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress", the suit filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations on behalf of Powell claimed, according to Today Online.

Powell was arrested after her sister allegedly used her identity falsely. Another case pertained to a shoplifting case at a grocery store in 2002.

A different suit filed by a group of Muslim women claims that they were kicked out of a cafe in Laguna Beach in April as they were Muslim.

It is claimed that six women from the group were asked by the management of the cafe to vacate their table on 22 April as the restaurant was busy and that the policy limited seating to 45 minutes when no free tables are available. When the women refused to leave, the coffee house allegedly called in the police.

On behalf of the law firm representing the women, Dan Stormer claimed that it was clear his clients were targeted because of their religion. "At the time our clients were there, there were several dozen free tables. There were people who were there before our clients arrived and they were not asked to leave. Those people were white and they were not wearing the hijab," Stormer is quoted as saying.

Local media reported that the restaurant owner denied any discrimination against women and pointed out that his wife is Muslim.