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Itemid Al-Matar filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago and six of its police officers who misidentified her as a potential terrorist on July 4, 2015 as she left a subway station dressed in hijab and niqab while carrying a backpack.

Al-Matar alleges in the suit that six Chicago police officers grabbed her and threw her down as she was walking up the stairs on her way home to break fast at sunset. The incident was caught on security cameras and clearly shows five police officers running up the stairs to catch Al-Matar.

The suit alleges that Al-Matarā€™s hijab and niqab were ā€œthe impetus behind the actionsā€ of the police officers. One of the lawyers in the civil case, Phil Robertson, argued in a statement that ā€œā€œblatant xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racial profilingā€ were to blame.

Al-Matar moved to the United States two years ago from Saudi Arabia to study English. According to a police report filed the night of the incident, officers had been instructed to be on ā€œhigh alert of terrorist activity.ā€ Officers singled out Al-Matar allegedly because of her ā€œsuspicious behaviorā€, which included ā€œwalking at a brisk pace, in a determined manner.ā€

Because of her pace and also the backpack she clutched to her chest as she walked up the stairs, the arresting officers ā€œbelieved that subject might be a lone wolf suicide bomber.ā€

The lawsuit names six police officers and the city of Chicago as the defendants and accuses them of ā€œexcessive force, false arrest, violation of freedom of religious expression and malicious prosecution.ā€


Naturally, the cityā€™s law department declined to comment.