A Muslim woman standing trial has been told she must remove her full-face veil while giving evidence, but will be allowed to wear it during the rest of the proceedings. The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing. Lawyers for the woman had argued that removing the veil would breach her human rights and fly in the face of Britain’s tolerance of Islamic dress codes. But Judge Peter Murphy, sitting at London’s Black friars Crown Court, said: “In general, the defendant is free to wear Niqap during trial. However, “the ability of the jury to see the defendant for the purposes of evaluating her evidence is crucial,” added Murphy. The judge also explained that the court could make necessary arrangements to “alleviate any discomfort”, by providing indirect means of communication such as screens or live links. The 22-year-old from London, who said it is against her religious beliefs to show her face in public, entered a not guilty plea to a charge of intimidation last week while wearing Niqab after the judge backed down from a previous decision that she would have to show her face to be properly identified. Murphy expressed respect of the defendant’s religious claims and handed over the issue to a higher court or to the Parliament to “provide a definite answer” on the Niqab. Nonethtless, Murphy explained that “the rule of law, open justice and the adversarial trial process” does not discriminate against any religion. In fact it maintains democracy and protects any religious tradition or practice. On the other hand, Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, condemned the ruling and filed a complaint to the Office of Judicial Complaints, pressing them to “make visibility throughout court hearings mandatory,” said Wood.
Sep. 16, 2013 22:07
Published by the Huffington Post