Female Doctor denies genital mutilation; judge keeps her locked up

A Detroit-area doctor charged with performing genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls denied the allegations through her lawyer Monday, insisting that she conducted a benign religious ritual for families of a Muslim sect.

It’s the first time someone has been charged with violating a U.S. ban on genital mutilation.

Shannon Smith, defense lawyer of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, explanation emerged during a hearing to determine whether Nagarwala would stay locked up without bond, following her arrest last week. After hearing arguments, a judge said she was a threat to the public and refused to release her.

“They were the last in a long line of children cut by the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said of the two girls who were accompanied to the Livonia clinic by their mothers.

Warrantless wiretapping has managed to duck significant judicial review. Until now.

January 30, 2014

 

Jamid Muhtorov was indicted in January 2012 for allegedly making plans to travel overseas and fight on behalf of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a designated foreign terrorist organization. In October, he became the first defendant to be informed that the case against him was built on information obtained via warrantless surveillance under the FISA Amendments Act. Now, he’s challenging the constitutionality of that surveillance.

It’s a significant development. For years, the government has successfully ducked judicial review of the program outside of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court by arguing that the people filing lawsuits couldn’t prove that they had been spied on. But with the notification to Muhtorov, that strategy won’t work any more, making his case an almost unavoidable test of the constitutional merits of warrantless wiretapping.

Last year, the Supreme Court dismissed an earlier challenge to the FAA brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a coalition of human rights, media and legal organizations. In its opinion, the high court agreed with the government that the groups couldn’t sue because they had no proof that they were subject to the surveillance they alleged. But a crucial part of the ruling was the government’s claim that there was someone else who would be able to challenge the law’s constitutionality: criminal defendants. The Justice Department said that if it ever used data collected using FISA in a criminal prosecution, it would alert the defendants of this fact, allowing them to raise constitutional concerns.

There was just one problem: The government wasn’t actually telling defendants that they had been subject to warrantless surveillance. In fact, the ACLU’s Patrick C. Toomey notes that at the time last year’s case was argued before the high court, “no criminal defendant had ever received notice of FAA surveillance in the five years since the FAA had been enacted.”

Eventually, the Justice Department decided that keeping the information from defendants any longer “could not be justified legally,” and Muhtorov and another defendant who had been convicted received notification about how the FAA was used in developing the cases against them. And now, Muhtorov’s lawyers and the ACLU have filed a motion for suppression of evidence, making a constitutional case against the law:

The FAA violates the Fourth Amendment because it authorizes surveillance that violates the warrant clause and, independently, because it authorizes surveillance that is unreasonable. The statute also violates Article III by requiring judges to issue advisory opinions in the absence of a case or controversy. The procedural deficiencies of the FAA render the statute unconstitutional, and they render the surveillance of Mr. Muhtorov unconstitutional as well.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/30/warrantless-wiretapping-has-managed-to-duck-significant-judicial-review-until-now/

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/terrorism-suspect-challenges-warrantless-surveillance/2014/01/29/fb9cc2ae-88f1-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_story.html

Six years for former soldiers who firebombed mosque after Lee Rigby murder

December 20, 2013

 

Two former soldiers who firebombed a mosque following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby have each been jailed for six years. Stuart Harness, 34, and Gavin Humphries, 37, made petrol bombs and threw them at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre while being filmed on CCTV cameras they thought were turned off.

They were jailed today by Judge Mark Bury at Hull Crown Court after admitting arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered at an earlier hearing.

He jailed a third defendant, Daniel Cressey – who denied aiding and abetting the other two but was found guilty by a jury – for three years.

Judge Bury said: “Whatever your feelings of outrage were, you should have allowed justice to take its course. Instead you carried out a retaliatory act of throwing petrol bombs at the Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre. As is usual in these cases, the victims had nothing to do with the events that so enraged you. They were entirely innocent law-abiding Muslims who were practising their religion in a peaceable way.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/six-years-for-former-soldiers-who-firebombed-mosque-after-lee-rigby-murder-9018507.html

Judge allows Muslim woman to wear niqab in London court

A Muslim woman has been allowed to make a plea in court while wearing a face-covering niqab after a judge agreed a compromise in which she was identified in private by a female police officer who then attested to her identity. The judge in the case at Blackfriars crown court in London then heard arguments as to whether the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, should be allowed to wear the niqab, which leaves only her eyes showing, during her full trial. Judge Peter Murphy will give that decision on Monday.

 

The judge allowed her to plead not guilty in the dock wearing the niqab after a female police officer who saw the defendant’s face when her custody photograph was taken witnessed her with the veil removed in a private room. The officer then swore on oath that the correct person was in court. The woman’s barrister, Susan Meek, said she was entitled to wear the niqab under the section of the European convention on human rights relating to religious beliefs.

“She is entitled to wear it in private and in public,” Meek said. “That right to wear the niqab also extends to the courtroom. There is no legislation in the UK in respect of the wearing of the niqab. There is no law in this country banning it.”

 

The court heard details from a similar case which reached Canada’s Supreme Court last year after a judge ruled that a woman should remove her niqab when testifying in a sexual assault case so jurors could properly gauge her credibility as a witness. The Supreme Court eventually ruled such decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Meek argued that a jury would be able to assess the defendant from her answers and body language. She said: “Ultimately it’s the choice of the defendant if she wishes to wear it.

Fully veiled women hinder progressive Islam by Yasmin Alibhai Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a founder member of British Muslims for Secular Democracy and argues that when firstly a British judge and then dedicated educationalists running a British college are defeated by the aggressive guerrilla army of Muslim Salafists and their misguided allies problems arise. At Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge Peter Murphy ordered a 21-year-old, veiled defendant to show her face. The accused had been charged with witness intimidation and pleaded not guilty. Whatever the results of that case, she and her supporters certainly intimidated the judge, who backed down so the trial could proceed.

 

Birmingham Metropolitan College was similarly cowed and had to reverse a directive forbidding students from covering their faces. One hooded lady crowd sourced a protest against the college. Some overexcited student union members, Muslim objectors and online petitioners have forced a U-turn. Shabana Mahmood, MP for Ladywood, Birmingham, welcomed the capitulation.

 

Muslim women can now to go to courts and college in shrouds. That all-covering gown, that headscarf, that face mask – all affirm and reinforce the belief that women are a hazard to men and society. These are unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors. They have no place in our country. So why are so many British females sending out those messages about themselves?

 

Some think they are outsmarting anxious Western institutions by covering up, winning dispiriting culture wars which will give them no advantage in our fast moving world. Young women in niqabs are either testing the state as teenagers do their parents or think their garb is political action – but for what? Many women, mothers in particular, have been brainwashed by proselytisers who want to spread conservative Islamic worship across Europe and North America. They are well funded by sources based in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

 

The woman before the judge must know that she or others like her will never be judges or barristers. Will she make her daughters do the same? The system wasn’t picking on her – a defendant in a micro mini would have caused as much disquiet. And the aggrieved college student, what future does she imagine? She denies herself jobs for the sake of what? They keep apart from fellow Britons by withholding proper human interactions. It’s not right or fair.

 

None of our sacred texts command us to cover our faces. Some branches of Islam do not even require head coverings. These are manmade injunctions followed by unquestioning women. We are directed always to accept the rules of the countries we live in and their institutions, as long as they are reasonable. For security, justice, travel, education and health identification is vital. Why should these women be exempt? We Muslims are already unfairly thought of as the enemy within. Niqabs make us appear more alien, more dangerous and suspicious. If it is a provocation for Ku Klux Klan to cover up so they can’t be recognised, it is for Muslims too. The clothes symbolize an attempted takeover of the religion just when believers are looking for liberty, autonomy, democracy and gender equality. Malala Yousafzai doesn’t hide her determined face. Nor do our female Muslim MPs and peers or civil rights lawyers.

 

Some of the bravest human rights activists are Muslim women. Take Tamsila Tauquir awarded an MBE for her charitable work with Muslims and Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, which I co-founded seven years ago. The two of them, with other idealists, have embarked on an “inclusive mosque” initiative, with pop-up prayers in various venues, where men and women, gays and straights, humanists and modernists can pray together.

 

Many others are trying to promote progressive Islam, which fits our times and needs.

Islamic zealots must fear these developments and want to crush them. Whether they know it or not, fully veiled women are part of this reactionary mission. Our state must not aid and abet them. The judge and the college should not have retreated and handed them this victory.

Muslim woman Rebekah Dawson must remove niqab while giving evidence, judge rules

Rebekah Dawson arrives at courtJudge Peter Murphy made the ruling in the case of Muslim convert Rebekah Dawson, who is facing trial for allegedly intimidating a witness. The 22-year-old had claimed her religious beliefs dictated that no male other than her husband could see her face. Lawyers for the defendant had argued that forcing the 22-year-old convert to remove her niqab in court would be a breach of her rights under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. But in a lengthy ruling, Judge Murphy said it was of “cardinal importance” to the adversarial system that a jury could see a defendant’s face while giving evidence. The issue first arose when Mrs Dawson refused to lift her veil in order to identify herself at a plea and case management hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court. The case was adjourned until last week when a compromise was reached and the judge allowed a female police officer to identify her in the privacy of a side room.

 

During his ruling, the judge revealed that Mrs Dawson, who was referred to as D, had only worn the veil since May 2012. But he said his decision would have been the same if she had worn it for years accepting that her feelings on the issue were sincere.

He went on: “I accept for the purposes of this judgment that D sincerely takes the view that as a Muslim woman, she is either not permitted or chooses not to uncover her face in the presence of men who are not members of her close family. I have been given no reason to doubt the sincerity of her belief.”

 

But in a lengthy ruling handed down today Judge Murphy said the ability for a jury to see a defendant’s demeanour during cross-examination was a principle part of the adversarial trial system. He said while the defendant would have to remove her niqab while giving evidence, screens could be erected or video links used to ensure she was only visible to the judge, the jury and counsel. He also ruled that court artists would not be permitted to sketch the defendant when her veil was removed. “No tradition or practice, whether religious or otherwise, can claim to occupy such a privileged position that the rule of law, open justice and the adversarial trial process are sacrificed to accommodate it. That is not a discrimination against religion; it is a matter of upholding the rule of law in a democratic society.”

Solicitors for Mrs Dawson have said they are considering their position but it is possible they could ask for a judicial review of the ruling.

 

Hackney woman told to remove burka by crown court judge

A judge has refused to let a Muslim woman in a full-length burka enter a plea until she reveals her face. The 21-year-old from Hackney, who is charged with intimidating a witness, said she could not remove the veil in front of men because of her religion. Judge Peter Murphy said however, she could not stand trial in the veil, which only reveals her eyes, because her identity could not be confirmed. The Judge argued that the principle of open justice overrode the woman’s religious beliefs, warning that a different person could go into the dock pretending to be her if she did not show her face. Stating that, “I can’t, as a circuit judge, accept a plea from a person whose identity I am unable to ascertain.” The woman’s barrister, Claire Burtwistle, told the court the woman was not prepared to lower her veil with men in the room and suggested a female police officer or prison guard could identify the defendant and confirm it to the court. However, Judge Murphy rejected the proposal and said: “It seems to me to be quite fundamental that the court is sure who it is dealing with. Judge Murphy adjourned the case for legal argument over whether the defendant should have to remove her veil.

Judge calls Minn. terror defendant who recently worked at a school a ‘danger’ to the community

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man who has been accused of using his knowledge of the Quran to persuade young men to leave the state in 2007 and fight with the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia has been working in a position of authority at an Islamic school, authorities said Wednesday.

Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis called Omer Abdi Mohamed a “danger to the community,” and ordered that he remain in custody until he is sentenced on one terror-related count in the government’s ongoing investigation into the recruiting of more than 20 young men who authorities say left Minnesota to join the al-Qaida-linked group.

Mohamed, 27, pleaded guilty last year. He was free, pending sentencing, but was arrested last week after authorities said he violated conditions of his release by not disclosing the nature of his employment.

Prosecutors said Mohamed had been working at Essential Learning of Minnesota Institute, a nonprofit program that offers after-school homework help, recreation activities and religious classes to children. Mohamed told his probation officer he was a volunteer teacher’s assistant, but some parents told the FBI that he was a manager or director.

Defendant Told to Shave

An Army appeals court has ruled that the defendant in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 can have his facial hair forcibly shaved off before his murder trial. The United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals’ opinion issued Thursday upheld the military trial judge’s decision to order Maj. Nidal Hasan to appear in court clean shaven or be forcibly shaved. Major Hasan has said the beard is an expression of his Muslim faith. His lawyers say he will appeal. Major Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted.

Krekar approves the decision of being detained for another eight weeks

It was reported last Wednesday that Mulla Krekar’s detention had been extended for another eight weeks. He accepts the decision made by the District Court in Oslo, which also informed the public that his case will be decided in a minor court hearing. Krekar’s defendant Arvis Sjöding informed the Aftonposten (Evening Newspapers) that Krekar understood that chances of him being released in wait for the trial were minimal and for that reason he had accepted the Court’s decision without official meeting in the courthouse. The newspaper further presented the details of the case by disclosing that Krekar will most likely appeal the previous conviction given by the District Court in the Court of Appeals and that he will do so most likely in October. According to the prosecutor Marit Bakkevik this is the period that suits both parties in the case.

It was on March 26th (2012) that Krekar was sentenced to five years in jail for a death threat made to Erna Solberg, a leader of the Norwegian right-wing party (http://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/artikkel.php?artid=10064736). He had appealed the court decision just a day after, however his demand was declined. The Kurdish Imam was initially arrested by the PST (Norwegian Police Security Service) only to be detained for eight weeks (in wait for the prosecutor’s initial decision to prosecute him). Subsequently, the court decided that it would be highly dangerous to let Krekar free in wait for court hearings as the nature of his threat (to Bekkevik) was interpreted to be especially serious. Krekar’s defendant Sjödin points out the Krekar is involved in several projects, one of which is writing a book.

More about Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad (Mulla Krekar):

 A 56-year-old Muslim cleric of Kurdish origin from northern Iraq and a father of four. Since 1991 he has been living in Norway claiming asylum due to high risk of imprisonment and torture in Iraq due to his political activities. He has been controversial throughout his stay in Norway which has been one of the reasons the Norwegian government did not grant him citizenship despite residing in the country for the past 21 years. Some of the alleged controversies include public statements where he had supported insurgent attacks against the U.S. and ally occupation of Iraq. He has also been the leader of Ansar A-Islam until 2003, an armed group in northern Iraq conducting violent attack against the occupying forces after 2003 and thereafter event the regional Kurdish government forces. He had denounced his leadership, nevertheless, the threat of extrajudicial treatment and torture still remains according to the Norwegian authorities who have not been willing to deport him to Iraq. In March 2012 he has been convicted to a five-year prison sentence due to repeated death threats made both to a prominent politician and a Kurdish-Norwegian writer.