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A Michigan judge threw out a lawsuit brought by a Muslim woman because she refused to show her face while testifying. Paul Paruk may have started another round of legal battles over the niqab, which only exposes the eyes, by ruling that witnesses must show their faces in court in order to allow a determination of their veracity:
Ginnah Muhammad, 42, wore a niqab – a scarf and veil covering the head and face that leaves only the eyes visible – for a court hearing in Hamtramck, near Detroit. She was contesting a $2,750 (£1,470) charge from a car hire company for damage to a vehicle she said was caused by thieves.
Paul Paruk, the district judge, told her that he needed to be able to see her face to gauge whether she was telling the truth.
He advised her that if she did not remove the veil while testifying the case would be dismissed. She refused to take it off.
"I just feel so sad," Ms Muhammad told the Detroit Free Press. "I feel that the court is there for justice for us. I didn't feel like the court recognised me as a person that needed justice. I just feel I can't trust the court."
Mr Paruk said he told Ms Muhammad to remove the veil because it was his job to determine "the veracity of somebody's claim". He added: "Part of that, you need to identify the witness and you need to look at the witness and watch how they testify."
This sounds similar to the Florida case of Sultaana Freeman, the convert to Islam who wouldn't remove her hijab to get her driver's license photograph. Denied the license, she sued, with the assistance of the Florida chapter of the ACLU, and lost in court. As far as I know, that case still has not concluded, although the Florida ACLU site hasn't updated this story since 2004. Their Michigan counterparts will likely take up this cause. CAIR already has made a statement on the decision, claiming that Paruk violated Muhammad's civil rights and demanding greater sensitivity towards Muslims in the courtroom.
Yesterday, I reminded people of the importance of assimilation when outsiders come into a culture. Muslims come here by choice, and they do not need to do so if they cannot accommodate our laws and traditions. Facing one's accusers in court is one of the bedrocks of our civil legal system, even more so in tort cases. Muhammad brought this lawsuit, hoping to leverage the system for her financial benefit. Now she and CAIR want the American system of justice to deny the right to a fair trial while doing so, in effect setting up a separate system of justice for Muslims in the US.
That cannot happen, and Judge Paruk made the right decision in his courtroom. Muhammad should have respected American legal tradition and removed her niqab if she wanted to file the lawsuit. Otherwise, she should have dropped the matter entirely. We are not required to make every religious dictate from every form of belief superior to our own traditions and laws, and those who demand that kind of treatment should live where their beliefs fit into the traditions of the community.
Multiculturalism sounds great in theory, but in practice it gets expensive and destructive. We need to stop setting the expectation that we will accommodate all differences. When people come to the US to live, they need to understand the rules and comprehend that we will not make hundreds of millions of people bear the burden of accommodation. We need to demand assimilation for legal, language, and cultural differences. When we choose to make excuses and bend for one group, it becomes a never-ending cycle of silliness where each group demands its own submission from those who have assimilated already.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on October 24, 2006 10:48 AM
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The Niqab DismissalEd Morrissey A Michigan judge threw out a lawsuit brought by a Muslim woman because she refused to show her face while testifying. Paul Paruk may have started another round of legal battles over the niqab, which only [Read More]
Tracked on October 24, 2006 12:56 PM
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