Court ruling fires U.K. debate on Muslim veils
Published: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 9:12 p.m.
LONDON — A British judge ruled on Monday that a Muslim woman could not give evidence at her trial wearing a full-face veil, sparking debate about whether Britain should follow other European countries and ban Islamic veils in schools and public places.
Senior politicians played down the likelihood of a ban when one minister said the coalition government should consider forbidding full-face veils, or niqabs, in schools, a measure that is gaining support from some members of parliament.
“My own view, very strongly held, is that we shouldn't end up like other countries issuing edicts or laws from parliament telling people what they should or should not wear,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the coalition's junior centrist party, the Liberal Democrats.
“This is a free country, and people going about their own business should be free to wear what they wish.”
The case comes as the government considers how to better integrate Britain's 2.7 million Muslims without restricting the right to freedom of religious expression.
The conundrum took on added significance after four British Islamists carried out deadly suicide bombings in London in 2005.
Britain has steered clear of following the examples of France and Belgium, where it is illegal for women to wear full-face veils in public.
But in the significant ruling, a Muslim woman, who argued that removing her veil in court breached her human rights, was told she could not wear it when giving evidence.
“The niqab has become the elephant in the courtroom,” said Judge Peter Murphy, who made the compromise that she could wear her veil at all other times during a trial later this year over accusations she had intimidated a witness in another case.
Murphy said it would “drive a coach and horses through the way in which justice has been administered in the courts of England and Wales for centuries” if jurors could not observe her reactions.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Teen’s death revives Turkish street demonstrations
- Malaysian military says missing jet changed course
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Investigation into missing Malaysia flight centers on 2 men who boarded with stolen passports
- Ukraine’s Crimea seeks to become independent state
- ‘Chavistas’ mark year since leader’s death
- Israelis kill Jordanian judge at border checkpoint
- Ukraine control of bases erodes
- Ukraine control of bases erodes
- Quebec legislature dissolved; election set
- Investigators chase ‘every angle’ in missing Malaysian jet