The legality of practicing law with Islamic headscarves

A lawyer of Moroccon origin, Oubida Barik, presented an administrative appeal against the president of the Criminal Division, Javier Gomez Bermudez because he wouldn’t allow her to remain in the courtroom while wearing her Islamic headscarf or hijab.

The lawyer was wearing her gown and hijab while sitting on the lawyers bench helping a colleague, the lawyer Salellas Benet, in the defense in a trial for Islamist terrorism.

Gomez Bermudez, applying his powers as president of organization of the trial, ordered Barik to take off the headscarf, but as she refused, he invited her to sit in the audience or leave the room.

The General Council of the Judiciary will decide on the legality of this practice.

Lawyer acquitted for refusing to stand in Dutch courtroom

Dutch lawyer Mohammed Enait has been acquitted of contempt of court by the Bar Association’s disciplinary council.

Enait argues that as a Muslim his religious belief maintains that everyone is equal, and thus that he will not stand during court cases when the judge enters the courtroom.

Enait was also reprimanded for wearing an Islamic head covering during sessions and for showing contempt of a judge in a TV talkshow.

He was acquitted on all three charges on Friday.

Muslim lawyer removed from Madrid court for wearing veil

A Muslim lawyer has protested after being excluded from court for refusing to lift her veil. The General Council of the Judiciary, which supervises the Spanish court system, says it has opened a preliminary probe of the complaint from attorney Zoubida Barik Edidi. Edidi, a Spaniard of Moroccan origin, was attending a trial in the National Court in Madrid when Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez asked her to leave because she refused to raise the veil. She was there accompanying a colleague acting as defense attorney, but was not formally part of the defense team, wearing her lawyer’s robes and a veil. She left the courtroom, but then filed a complaint with the body that oversees the judiciary in Spain, citing “discrimination” and “abuse of power.”

Life sentence for Dresden courtroom murderer

Alex W., the man who stabbed pregnant Egyptian pharmacist Marwa al-Sherbini to death in a courtroom in Dresden in July, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday. The judge imposed the harshest possible sentence under the German system by ruling that W. will not be eligible for parole after 15 years.

International attention to the case was high. Responses to the verdict have generally been positive, except for those who demanded a death sentence or extradition to Egypt for a death penalty, both of which possibilities have been abolished in the EU. The Egyptian ambassador to Germany was pleased with the sentence, as it was the highest possible.

German Muslims warned against growing Islamophobia in Germany, but welcomed the sentence, which is also a sign that Islamophobic currents are not institutionalized in Germany. Many newspapers discuss the fact that society must remain vigilant and it must always ensure an environment in which wearing the veil – an initial spark of the tragedy – does not become life-threatening.

Trial against xenophobic courtroom murderer of Marwa al-Sherbini to start Monday

Under tight security, a man stands trial in Dresden on Monday for the murder of a pregnant Egyptian woman that stoked anger against Germany and its media in her home country and the wider Muslim world. The defendant, for legal reasons named only as Alex W, is accused of stabbing to death Marwa al-Sherbini on July 1 in a courtroom.

Alex W, classed by police as xenophobic, attacked Sherbini during an appeal hearing against a fine he was ordered to pay for verbally abusing the woman at a city playground in August 2008. Sherbini, who was pregnant with her second child, was in court with her husband and 3-year-old son when the defendant lunged at her with a knife he had smuggled into the building.

The German and Egyptian governments are to keep in touch during the trial of Alex W, a German national charged with the July 1 murder of Egyptian Marwa al-Sherbini, 31, a senior aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday. Maria Boehmer, Germany’s commissioner for minority affairs, made the announcement after a telephone conversation with the Egyptian ambassador to Germany, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, ahead of the court case due to start Monday.

“Toronto 18” member pleads guilty to terror charges

Zakaria Amara issued a surprise guilty plea in a Brampton courtroom, more than 40 months after he and 17 others were arrested in connection with the most audacious and ambitious terrorist attack planned in Canada as part of the “Toronto 18.”

Pleading guilty to two counts of terrorism will likely garner Amara, the plot’s ringleader, life in prison.

Raised in the suburbs by an Arab father and a Cypriot mother, Amara has been portrayed as an unlikely Islamic warrior. He says he was baptized in the Greek Orthodox church. In his teens he married an observant, niqab-wearing wife, who soon bore him a baby. News sources claim that she urged him to do something dramatic for Islam.

Update: woman lifts burka to testify in Spanish court

Fatima Hssini, who was expelled from a Spanish courtroom last month when she refused to lift her burka, has testified with her veil raised and her back to the public audience. Speaking to journalists as she arrived to give her testimony Monday morning, Hssini said the controversy which arose after the interview last week was due to ignorance. Wearing the burka is seen as much more normal, she said, in other European countries than it is in Spain.

Hssini testified as a witness at the trial in the National Court for nine people charged with recruiting and sending Mujahedeen to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq. Hssini, the sister of one of those who died, was originally in court last Wednesday but was expelled by Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez after refusing to lift her burka.

Woman wearing burka expelled from national court

A witness called before the National Court in Spain has been expelled from the court after she refused to lift or remove her burka. The woman, the sister of an Islamic radical killed in a suicide bombing in 2005, was called as a witness in a case where nine alleged Islamists were in the dock, facing allegations of sending Mujahidin to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq. She explained that her religion forbade her from appearing in public without her burka.

Judge Javier Gómez Bermúdez expelled her from the court, but the two later reached a compromise, AFP reports. She agreed to testify on Monday without the part of her burka which normally covers the face “between the chin and the eyebrows” and with her back turned to the public in the courtroom.

The judge commented that “seeing her face I can see if she is lying or not, or if any question surprises her or not”. He said that he did not want to charge her with disobedience, but underlined that religious beliefs cannot be above civil law.

New developments in the “Toronto 18” terrorist trials

A 26-year-old Somali immigrant admitted in a Canadian court admitted he was a member of the terrorist group known as the Toronto 18 and had obtained handguns in the United States for the alleged ringleader. Ali Mohamed Dirie also acknowledged that, even while behind bars serving a prison sentence for smuggling two guns into Canada, he had tried to buy more guns and recruit other inmates into the group.

For almost two hours, the Crown prosecutor Clyde Bond read a 28-page statement of facts in a Brampton courtroom. When he was finished, Dirie, dressed in a gray hoody, baggy jeans and a blue skullcap, was asked if he agreed it was accurate. He agreed and pleaded guilty on Monday to participating in the activities of a terrorist group. He is to be sentenced on Oct. 2. A second charge of committing an offense for a terrorist group was stayed yesterday. Dirie faces a maximum 10-year sentence.

The Marwa Al-Sherbini Case: Investigators Believe Killer ‘Hated Non-Europeans’ and Muslims

Two months after the brutal murder of an Egyptian woman in a courtroom in Dresden, investigators believe the German-Russian immigrant who killed Marwa al-Sharbini was motivated by xenophobia. The case, which has not yet gone to trial, continues to be the focus of intense pressure from abroad. The tragic events were set in motion at a swing set in a plain wooden sandbox in Dresden, a major city in eastern Germany. A huge ash-leaf maple tree casts its shadow. East German-era prefab tower blocks are located next door, and tenants hang their laundry out to dry next to the small playground in the city’s Johannstadt district. Everything is regulated here — even playtime, which is permitted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer months. It was on this playground that Alexander W.* and Marwa al-Sherbini met for the first time on August 21, 2008. He was a 27-year-old Russian-German from Perm; she a 30-year-old Egyptian from Alexandria. Both had been stranded in eastern Germany by chance. They hadn’t encountered each other before — and there was no reason to think they ever would again. But an ominous confrontation ensued following a dispute over a swing, culminating 10 months later with a crime that rattled the Islamic world, battered Germany’s reputation and gave Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another excuse to hurl invectives. Steffen Winter reports.