A Muslim New York Police Department officer was suspended without pay and escorted out of police headquarters for refusing to shave his beard which he said he grew for religious reasons.
Officer Masood Syed, who said he has maintained about half-to-one-inch beard (13-25mm) for most of his 10-year career, has sued the department saying its no-beard policy is unconstitutional.
The department says it bans beards as a safety measure so gas masks fit tightly across faces, but allows beards for religious reasons up to one millimeter in length.
On Wednesday during an emergency hearing, a federal judge ordered the city to continue paying Syed his salary and benefits.
U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel criticized the city repeatedly before finding it was probable Officer Syed would succeed, issuing a temporary restraining order that will remain in place until a July 8 hearing.
On July 8, another judge will consider whether Syed should be allowed to work until the matter is resolved.
The judge, who is bearded, said one millimeter of hair exists when a man is unshaven for a day or two. He said it seemed the policy is enforced haphazardly.
‘I am very relieved,’ Syed said following the hearing, as he celebrated his 32nd birthday with a half dozen fellow officers supporting him in the Manhattan court.
Syed said on Tuesday, two uniformed supervisors escorted him from Manhattan NYPD headquarters where he works as a law clerk to administrative judges, sometimes preparing legal documents for the police commissioner about disciplinary issues.
His attorney, Joshua Moskovitz, said the department also took Syed’s shield and weapon before he was ‘escorted out in front of his friends and colleagues.’
‘It was extremely humiliating,’ Syed said. ‘I felt insulted, frankly.’
Does this Muslim look humiliated or does he look like the cat who ate the canary?
Raymond Ibrahim has more in Why the Muslim Beard Bodes Trouble.
Update: While he awaits his big payday from taxpayers, Muslim NYPD officer reinstated as department reviews its beard policy.