An Australian judge has been called “unreasonable” for ordering the Muslim wife of an accused terrorist to remove her niqab and show her face while attending her husband’s trial.
She refused the request to remove the traditional Muslim face covering and was subsequently escorted from the building to sit outside while the case was being heard, the Herald Sun reports.
“I require anybody who comes into the court — and all are welcome — but anybody who comes into the court, for their face to be uncovered,’ Justice Beale of the Victorian Supreme Court said. According to the transcript of proceedings, the lawyer for the wife’s husband said she was “obviously not prepared to do that.”
A court spokesman told the newspaper that judges can decide who is allowed to sit in their courts.
Islamic Council of Victoria vice president Adel Salman slammed the ban by Justice Beale, saying it’s a violation of the woman’s human rights. He added:
I think the judge’s decision is unreasonable and concerning.
Women choose to wear it. It’s part of their faithfulness to God. To ask them to remove it is quite intrusive and, in some cases, can be traumatic.
Mr Salman said the court could have taken measures to overcome security concerns.
“If there’s any doubt about someone’s identity, a woman can be asked to step into a room privately with a female security person, remove her niqab, verify their identity,” he said.
The identity of the accused or his wife cannot be revealed for legal reasons.
The accused terrorist’s supporters refused to follow court protocols last year and wouldn’t stand when a magistrate entered the courtroom, according to the Herald Sun.
Last year, the Victorian state opposition proposed a law to slap women who refuse to show their face in court with a two-week jail term or a $1,500 fine.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy renewed his call for the policy on Wednesday, saying: “If you don’t respect the court, you don’t respect the law.”