Final Essay 1

Submitted By rosissima
Words: 927
Pages: 4

SHOULD A DEFENDANT BE ALLOWED TO WEAR A NIQAB IN A COURT OF LAW?
In Europe, there have always been controversies concerning the veil. The veil for Muslims is a religious matter. Some Muslim woman, are obliged to wear the veil when they leave home or when there are in presence of unknown men. However, in England people have the freedom of going around the city wherever they want. According to Europe Human Rights, everybody has the right to express their own religion and to dress in any garment that religion request (Brown). Controversy about dressing the niquab has increased, when a Muslim woman, for the first time, refused to remove her veil and reveal her face in front of the court while giving her evidence. Information about this woman was that she was 22 years old and coming from London. She started wearing a niqab just one year before (Bentham). In the court she wasn’t called by the name, but recognize only as “D”. The defendant was accused of intimidating a witness while she was wearing the veil (Bentham). This event was complex for the judge, to come to a decision, because there had never been a similar case of an accused Muslim, refusing to remove her niquab while giving evidence. This issue has caused controversy for a number of reasons (Bentham).

The judge, Murphy, had to reconcile to opposing views in this polemical case. He wanted to solve the problem making his decision correct in front of the Law of the State, but also in front of the right of religion’s freedom. The judge Murphy, based his decision on what the civil rights for hundred of years says, that everyone has to have equal rights in front of the Law (Brown). Consequently, the rules of the court should be the same for all the people, even if there are obstacles relating to the rules of their different religion that could go against court’s rules. He announced that this was not because of discriminating against the Muslim religion, but to support the rule of law in a democratic society (Brown). At first the judge said that the woman would have to remove her veil through out the court procedure (Swinford and Evans). However, a week later he changed his decision and he came to a compromise. Supporting the Muslim woman’s request, as a temporary compromise, he permitted her to be identified by a female police officer without the veil in a private room. In this way, the judge and the rest of the court, could be aware from the policewoman oath statement, that the woman under process was really her or not (Bentham). Finally, Murphy’s last and permanent ruling about the issue, influenced by the various oppositions, was to make the woman remove the veil in front of the court while she was interrogated, but she was permitted to give her evidence behind a screen to protect her from the public view (Swinford and Evans). This final decision, showed that the judge found an equilibrium between the defendant’s religious rights to wear a niqab because of Eu Human Rights and the necessity of the Law to conduct criminal process in a right and fair way (Walker).

This decision also provokes opposition to some organizations, for instance the National Secular Society. This complained about Murphy’s ruling, stating that it is unfair to give or even listen to the others evidence, without showing the face, since revealing it, could help the jury make a right and honest final decision (Brown).

This instigates an argument by the defendant’s barrister, whose name is Susan Meek and also from the Muslim Council of Britain. Susan Meek, debates the National Secular…