NC man ripped off Muslim woman’s hijab: ‘This is America!’
He admitted he did this during a flight last summer.
Gill Payne, 37, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to one count of using force to intentionally obstruct the woman from freely exercising her religious beliefs, prosecutors said.
“No matter one’s faith, all Americans are entitled to peacefully exercise their religious beliefs free from discrimination and violence,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
An attorney for Payne did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Payne admitted that on a flight last December, he approached the aisle where the Muslim woman was seated shortly before landing in Albuquerque, and stopped next to her seat, Prosecutors said.
Payne then told the woman, a stranger identified in court documents as K.A., to take off her hijab, saying something to the effect of “Take it off! This is America!” prosecutors said.