Britain’s top judge says Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils in court

Lord Neuberger

Lord Neuberger

Source: The Telegraph

Lord Neuberger, the President of the Supreme Court, says that judges should show respect toward different cultures

Judges should allow Muslim women to appear in court wearing a full-face veil, Britain’s most senior judge has suggested.

Lord Neuberger, the President of the Supreme Court, said it was crucial that courts and judges “show, and be seen to show” respect towards different customs.

He said this included having an understanding of the “different cultural and social habits” of those appearing as witnesses, defendants or jurors in cases.

His comments, in a lecture about the need for courts to be less intimidating, come at a time of uncertainty over the place of the Muslim niqab, or full face-veil, in the legal system.

In 2013 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, said there was a need for clear guidance on the issue following controversy over the trial at London’s Blackfriars Crown Court of a Muslim woman accused of witness intimidation.

Rebekah Dawson was told that she would be forced to take off her full-face veil if she gave evidence, which she declined to do. She was later jailed for six months after changing her plea to guilty.

In his address to the Criminal Justice Alliance, Lord Neuberger said judges and lawyers often failed to recognise how “artificial and intimidating” courts could be for ordinary people, adding: “I sometimes wonder whether our trial procedures really are the best way of getting at the truth.”

• We need ‘national debate’ on veils in court – former DPP

• Veils in court are a barrier to justice

He continued: “Would you feel that you had given of your best if you had been forced to give evidence in unfamiliar surroundings, with lots of strangers watching, in an intimidating court, with lawyers in funny clothes asking questions, often aggressively and trying to catch you out, and with no ability to tell the story as you remember it?”

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Categories: Europe, Europe and Australia, Highlight, Hijab, ISLAM

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5 replies

  1. Veil is a sign of woman liberation from Current Naked liberalism, unethical fashion, social harassment, over consciousness about figure etc and become a sex icon and toy of the troy.
    Veil is not mere name of piece of cloth but it also has complete women education and training to enjoy her full, fledge life without any fear and become tradable commodity and symbol of enjoyment.
    Europe is needlessly focussing the “veil issue” which relates to the lives of a very small portion of European society. It is estimated that there are only about 2000 Muslim women in France and 30 in Belgium who wear burqa. European Establishments concern with the affairs of such a tiny minority represents a clear instance of cultural bigotry. Those wearing burqa were ridiculed as “walking-coffins” or ” asymmetrical cylinders”. In very cold winter people walk about with scarves tightly wrapped around their face. In those cases no security issue arises, but the wearing of burqa raises security concern. Burqa is regarded as a symbol of male domination by the self-proclaimed torchbearers of liberty but they do not know that Islam gave women the rights that the west could not even think about till 20th century. Burqa is worn as a matter of choice. Nowadays young women choose to wear full veil seeing it as a powerful statement of identity, The parliaments of various European countries are voting to legislate the banning of the veils, In Switzerland a ban on minarets was imposed. The campaign against Islamic symbols is on the rise because of a sense of insecurity in some Europeans. A ban on the burqa is bound to widen the differences rather than bridging them. It will just encourage discrimination against Muslims in European society.

    Niqab is part of freedom of expression and religion. It might be something you don’t like or respect, but it is the choice of women to make, if they want to cover their faces then they should and in many societies are free to do so.

    Wearing the Niqab has never been a security threat, and if one was to say in case it becomes a security threat, let’s BAN women from expressing their beliefs and determining for themselves what they want, then I say INCREASE and IMPROVE the security of institutions.

    There might be some Muslims who deny the niqab as having any legitimate basis in Islam, but when faced with evidence from Islamic traditions, I wonder, what evidence to they bring to support their preposterous arguments.

    And, Let’s for the sake of the argument say this has nothing to do with Islam, it still has everything to do with the right of women to determine for themselves how they want to dress.
    According to some western feminists, ban on burqa is violation of fundamental human right to choice for dress. To them the law does not aim at defending Muslim women rights but restricting the same. The burqa ban is, in fact, liberticidal, they argue. And it will not defend women dignity but increase racist aggression against Muslim women wearing veils.

    The niqab, hijab, and burqa are all Islamic, as they have been customary in parts of the Muslim world and are bound up in Muslim scripture and tradition for hundreds of years. Such clothes may very well have been inherited by Islam from pre-Islamic cultures, too. But that doesn’t change the fact that the clothes are closely identified with Islam. As for any rules REQUIRING or BANNING clothes are unnecessary.

    Not covering whole face or not is up to interpretation of various schools of thought and they shall be accountable on their intentions behind interpretation but I have numerous examples around me where women are doing complete veil and they are very much professional and active in every walk of life and living a very “respectable” and healthy life along with every contemporary suitable fashion and ornaments they may feel comfortable with.
    IA
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

  2. @Iftikhar Ahmad
    First of all, please don’t make long rambling speeches. I just have few points for you to ponder.
    1) If veil is such a symbol of freedom, why men don’t do it?
    2) Name one Muslim country where there is more freedom, equality and justice compared with Britain or USA.
    3) Who said, niqab, and burqa is hijab? This is your interpretation. Keep it to yourself. I read these verses differently and my interpretation of hijab is different.
    4) Should governments respect all practices of all religions? Even when they are oppressive? What about unlimited marriages in Mormon religion? What about the practice of ‘Sati’ in Hindu religion?
    I would appreciate if you can answer these questions. Again please no long rambling thesis.

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