Judge rules in favor of Muslim woman on no-fly list

January 16, 2014

 

A Muslim woman now living in Malaysia struck a blow to the U.S. government’s “no-fly list” when a federal judge ruled Tuesday (Jan. 14) that the government violated her due process rights by putting her on the list without telling her why.

Muslims and civil rights advocates say the no-fly list disproportionately targets Muslims, and they hope the ruling will force the government to become more transparent about the highly secretive program.

The lawsuit, filed by San Jose-based McManis-Faulkner in 2006 on behalf of the mother of four children and PhD student at Stanford University, alleged that the government violated Dr. Ibrahim’s due process rights when it placed her on the “no-fly” list. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that Ibrahim had standing to challenge the government’s actions, ordered the government to correct Ibrahim’s position on the “no-fly” list and to disclose to her what is her current status on the “no-fly” list.

The lawsuit is the oldest of three currently being litigated to challenge the government’s secretive “no-fly” list, which effectively bars individuals the government often mistakenly believes to pose a security threat from flying. The Obama administration vehemently opposed Ibrahim’s lawsuit, sought to keep the December trial secret and is currently requesting that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals keep the ruling sealed.

“Judge Alsup’s ruling affirms that basic notions of transparency and accountability apply to even the U.S. government’s ‘no-fly’ list. We welcome this ruling and look forward to further clarity as to how one can navigate the maze created by the ‘no-fly’ list and other similar listings,” said AAAJ–ALC staff attorney Nasrina Bargzie.

“Each year our offices hear from hundreds of individuals who are visited by the FBI and face related travel issues,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Many have lost hope about clearing their names, but this case will renew our collective desire to continue forward with the courts on our side.”

Under the guidelines, people who have been stopped from boarding flights may file an inquiry with the Department of Homeland Security, but responses do not include information about whether the person is on the no-fly list, according to the ACLU. The only way to find out whether a person has been removed from the no-fly list is to buy a ticket and try to board a flight.
RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/16/judge-rules-favor-muslim-woman-fly-list/
CAIR.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12322-civil-rights-groups-welcome-legal-victory-against-no-fly-list.html

Veils in court: judges to be given guidance, says lord chief justice

November 5, 2013

 

The most senior judge in England and Wales has disclosed plans to launch a consultation on whether veils can be worn in court as he warned the issue had become highly divisive.

At his first press conference since taking up his judicial post last month, the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, also suggested that in future criminal defendants might be able to take part in preliminary hearings from home via Skype or FaceTime video systems on their computers.

The former justice secretary, Ken Clarke, at the weekend stirred the controversy over the niqab by declaring that a fair trial could not take place if a defendant is “in a kind of bag”. In September, a judge ruled a Muslim woman would be allowed to stand trial while wearing a full-face veil but said she must remove it while giving evidence.

Thomas said: “The best way for dealing with this matter is to make a practice direction … The basic principle will be that it must be for the judge in any case to make his own or her own decision but we will give clear guidance.

Asked if he envisaged defendants appearing from home, he said: “I can see it happening for pre-trial hearings – whether one could go any further would depend – but certainly pre-trial hearing stage is one place we have to make changes.” We have to look at solutions that are innovative and will bring down the cost of litigation because we can’t afford to go on as we once did.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/05/veils-court-judges-skype-lord-chief-justice

Baby Loup affair pushes question of religion at workplace into centre

October 22, 2013

The Baby Loup affair surrounding the question of wearing religious symbols in general and the hijab in particular in a nursery returned to the media when the French Court of Appeal opposed the Supreme Court’s decision on calling the termination of a French Muslim woman’s work contract in a nursery unlawful. The legal battle will most likely continue and will bring the question of religion at workplace to the forefront of the debate.
Le Monde:

http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2013/10/22/l-entreprise-n-echappe-pas-a-la-politisation-du-religieux_3500730_3232.html?xtmc=musulman&xtcr=11

http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/10/16/affaire-baby-loup-la-cour-d-appel-de-paris-entre-en-rebellion-contre-la-cour-de-cassation_3496539_3224.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.

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.

 

Muslim girl attempts suicide following attack

Liberation

27.08.2013

16-year-old Aïssatou N. jumped off the fourth floor of her apartment building in Trappes an attempt to commit suicide. Days prior to her suicide attempt, the Muslim teenager was attacked by two white male on the street who violently pulled off her hijab (veil). The attack follows violent riots in the same town in July after a Muslim woman wearing a niqab was frisked and stopped by local police officers.

Aïssatou N. survived the fall and was released after having been briefly hospitalised. The attack draws further attention to the rise of islamophobic attacks in France.

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.

The violence of Trappes

Trappes police16.08.2013

Le Monde

A month after the two day riots of July 19 to 20, the French daily Le Monde re-narrates the story of France’s second suburban riot of the 21st century. The violence started following the stop and search of a 21-year-old Muslim woman in a niqab in the priority neighbourhood of Mersiers in Trappes (Yvelines). Her 20-year-old husband intervened when the police is alleged to have insulted the woman and was taken to the station for having attempted to strangulate one of the officers.  Like many other suburbs in the vicinity of Paris, the tension between youths and the police has been well established, but what made this summer’s riots however  distinct from others was the religious identity and solidarity which mobilized people and remained absent in previous episodes of urban violence. The paper continues to reason this religious force as the result of the growth of Islamophobia in front of the eyes of many of the neighbourhood’s residents who are of North African and Sub-Saharan origin. Few weeks prior to the 21-year-old Muslim woman’s stop and search, a number of stop and search actions of Muslim women have shocked the Muslim community and left deep traces of anxiety and anger amongst people.

Aggravated about the officer’s conduct and the arrest of her husband, the 21-year-old Muslim woman contacted her local mosque. Rumours about the most recent law enforcement against veiled Muslims women started to circulate amongst the community following Friday prayer. The local mosque is described by Le Monde as ultraorthodox in its preaching and tremendously popular amongst young Muslims who find ‘cohesion’ in the religious community. After Friday prayer, a group of 20 people, including the female victim, went to the police commissariat to demand the release of the husband. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs interprets the chain of events differently. According to them, a group of Salafist were to be found in front of the commissariat. ‘Half of them’ were known to the police and are said to have threatened the authorities with actions

The tension couldn’t be ceased and the police ordered reinforcements. By 5 PM, representatives of the mosque arrived at the commissariat to calm the community in vain. A new protest was announced by 8.30 PM via SMS. It is believed that many of the protestors were mobilized by a number of SMS which circulated throughout the hours following the arrest. No calls for violence were, however, made.  At 8.30 PM some 150 people gathered in front of the commissariat which included residents of Trappes but also people from other areas of the Greater Parisian Region (Ile-de-France).

Anti-riot police arrived when the tension reached its climax. Three people approached the police when one police officer insulted men wearing traditional clothing. Mortar fireworks started to be shot from the crowds landing at the feet of the police. The riots suddenly began and took place over two days leading to multiple injuries and immense material damage.

For many residents of Cherries, the clashes of that night are the result of an almost inevitable social slippage. Since August 13, few weeks after the riots, a new path of approaching the Muslim community of Trappes has been introduced in local authorities

Muslim woman asked to remove headscarf during bar exam in Springfield

On Wednesday and Thursday, law school graduates aspiring to practice in the Commonwealth gathered in Boston and Springfield to take the 16-hour bar exam, broken into several parts. During the morning portion of the test Thursday, recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School Iman Abdulrazzak was handed a note from an exam proctor asking her to remove her headscarf.

 

The note, written in capitalized block letters read, “Headwear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. We have no record of you being given prior written approval. Please remove your headwear and place it under your seat for the afternoon session.”

While “headwear including hats, scarves, caps, hoods, bandanas, visors, costume headgear or sunglasses” are prohibited from the examination room, religious headwear is permitted. “Headwear that has been granted prior approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for religious or medical reasons only,” according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners’ security policy.

Such religious headwear includes Jewish yarmulkes, Muslim hijabs and Sikh dastars.

Though it is clear that prior approval is needed for headwear, Abdulrazzak said her request to wear the hijab was approved Monday. Additionally, it is unclear why the proctor gave her the note during the exam instead of waiting until the lunch break.

During the break for lunch, Abdulrazzak called the Bar office to request she be allowed to take the exam in the afternoon with her hijab on.

Executive Director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners Marilyn Wellington told law news website Above The Law the issue was resolved quickly.

NYC Mayoral Candidate, Lhota, Courts Muslim Votes

Prayer mats, pointing in the direction of Mecca, lined a pedestrian plaza and an entire block on 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, early on Thursday to mark the end of a month of fasting for Muslims and the beginning of a three-day feast that is traditionally spent in the company of close family and friends. Colored flag streamers hung along the sides of the streets, recycled boxes were circulated through the crowd to collect donations and hundreds of men took their shoes off and stood side by side to pray.

 

It was the usual scene — except for an unusual visitor this year.

 

Joseph J. Lhota, one of the Republican candidates for mayor, appeared before the sizable gathering, mostly South Asian and Muslim people, to introduce himself. While many of the Democratic candidates have made themselves known to the Muslim community in Jackson Heights and throughout other parts of the city, the Republican candidates have remained largely invisible.

 

But Mr. Lhota, addressing a congregation that had gathered in Diversity Plaza, said, “I really appreciate everything that the Muslim community brings to New York.

“I want to be your mayor,” he added. “I want to be the mayor of all New Yorkers.”

Several Democratic candidates for mayor have courted New York’s growing Muslim population by making specific promises. John C. Liu, currently the city comptroller, said he believed that surveillance of Muslim institutions by the Police Department was unconstitutional. Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, promised to add two Muslim holidays to the school calendar. Anthony D. Weiner, a former member of Congress, pointed out that he was married to a Muslim woman.

 

By contrast, Mr. Lhota, a former chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who previously served as a deputy mayor in the administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani, kept his message short and broad.

 

“It is very important,” he said, “that we continue to make sure that New York City is the city of opportunity and a place where people from all over the world want to come to be able to fulfill their American dream.”