January 27, 2014
A Muslim woman standing trial in a full-face veil, who was told she must remove it if she gives evidence in her defence, will not take to the witness box, a court has heard. Rebekah Dawson, 22, has been allowed to appear at her trial for alleged witness intimidation in a niqab showing just her eyes. The trial judge, Peter Murphy, ruled last September that she could wear the Islamic garment in court but he said she would have to let the jury of five women and seven men see her face if she gave evidence.
Her barrister, Susan Meek, told the jury at Blackfriars crown court in London on Monday that she would not be giving evidence in her own defence.
Earlier in the trial, Murphy told the jury that Dawson was “fully entitled” to dress how she chose to in court. He told jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about her appearance because they would have nothing to do with the case.
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/27/muslim-woman-face-veil-court-trial-witness
FORT MEADE, Md. — Prosecutors are asking an expert on militant Islam to help them show that Pfc. Bradley Manning damaged U.S. interests by disclosing classified information through WikiLeaks.
Navy Cmdr. Youssef Aboul-Enein (ah-BOOL’-ah-NEEN’) is set to testify Thursday at Manning’s sentencing hearing at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.
The witness is the author of the book, “Militant Islamist Ideology.” He’s also a top adviser at the Pentagon’s Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism. He argues that winning the war against militant Islamists requires a nuanced understanding of their ideology.
Prosecutors are nearing the end of their part of the sentencing hearing. Manning faces up to 90 years in prison for giving more than 700,000 documents, along with battlefield video, to the anti-secrecy group while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.
NEW YORK — The New York Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning and frisking people on the street is facing its biggest legal challenge this week with a federal civil rights trial on whether the tactic unfairly targets minorities.
Police have made about 5 million stops of New Yorkers in the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. The trial, set to begin Monday, will include testimony from a dozen people who say they were targeted because of their race and from police whistleblowers who say they were forced into making slipshod stops by bosses who were too focused on numbers.
Recent polls show a stark divide over how blacks and whites view the tactic, while among Hispanics, disapproval of the practice has grown. The debate has drawn in Muslim-Americans concerned about NYPD surveillance revealed in a series of reports by The Associated Press; the family of a 16-year-old shot by police who say he couldn’t have had a gun; and City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was detained at the September 2011 West Indian Day Parade. He recently tangled with Kelly on the issue during a public safety hearing.
U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin, who has said in earlier rulings that she is deeply concerned about stop and frisk, is not being asked to ban the tactic, since it has been found to be legal. But she does have the power to order reforms, which could bring major changes to how the nation’s largest police force and other departments use the tactic.
Street stops have become a New York flashpoint, with mass demonstrations, City Council hearings and, most recently, days of protests after police shot a teenager who authorities say pulled out a gun during a stop.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly say it is a necessary, life-saving, crime-fighting tool that helps keep illegal guns off the street and has helped New York reach all-time crime lows.
INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. government claims it has the ultimate proof that American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh might foment hate and violence among fellow Muslim inmates if they’re allowed to pray together daily. He has already tried, it argues.
But Lindh, 31, accuses the government of going too far in its drive for security and trampling on his freedom of religion by restricting group prayers among Muslim inmates in the Terre Haute, Ind., prison unit where he has been housed since 2007.
Lindh is expected to testify Monday in federal court in Indianapolis during the first day of a trial that will examine how far prison officials can go to ensure security in the age of terrorism.
Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and the Hanbali school to which Lindh belongs requires group prayer if it is possible. But inmates in the Communications Management Unit are allowed to pray together only once a week except during Ramadan. At other times, they must pray in their individual cells. Lindh claims that doesn’t meet the Quran’s requirements and is inappropriate because he is forced to kneel in close proximity to his toilet.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing Lindh, contends the policy violates a federal law barring the government from restricting religious activities without showing a compelling need.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2009 by two Muslim inmates in the unit. Lindh joined the lawsuit in 2010, and the case has drawn far more attention since then. The other plaintiffs have dropped out as they were released from prison or transferred to other units.
Lindh had been charged with conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists, but those charges were dropped in a plea agreement. He is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government of Afghanistan and carrying explosives for them. He is eligible for release in 2019.
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Boise, Idaho is questioning the urgency that FBI agents felt when they arrested and detained an American Muslim under a law designed to ensure that witnesses show up to testify in court.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams questioned Department of Justice attorney Marcus Meeks during a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit brought by Abdullah al-Kidd against the federal government.
Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen, sued former Attorney General John Ashcroft and other federal officials in 2005, after he was arrested and jailed as a material witness in a terrorism-related criminal case against another man. He contends his arrest was just a ruse to give the government time to investigate him for any potential wrongdoing. The federal government maintains its actions were constitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already thrown out al-Kidd’s claims against Ashcroft and a few other defendants, and al-Kidd has prevailed in a claim against one prison and settled his claims against two other lockups. Now FBI agents Michael Gneckow and Scott Mace and the Department of Justice are asking the judge to throw out al-Kidd’s claims against them.
News Agencies – December 12, 2011
A requirement for new Canadians to show their faces while taking the oath of citizenship puts the federal government on one side of a simmering debate over how far the state should go to accommodate minorities. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Muslim women who wear burqas or niqabs must remove the garments when they are becoming citizens.
The decision comes as the Supreme Court of Canada considers whether a woman should be allowed to testify in court with her face covered. And Quebec is debating a bill to ban face coverings for people receiving some government services, and those providing them. Two federal Conservative attempts to ban veiled voting have stalled before becoming law in recent years.
News Agencies – December 8, 2011
The Supreme Court of Canada will attempt to balance Islamic beliefs against the bedrock elements of a fair trial in a decision of constitutional rights. At the centre of the case is a sexual assault complainant known as N.S., who does not want to testify against two men accused of raping her unless her face is obscured by a religious veil, or niqab.
The defendants assert that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them the right to confront their accuser and observe her facial nuances as she testifies. However, lawyers for N.S. say facial expressions are frequently misleading and that Islamic rape victims will be reluctant to go to police if they may later be ritually “stripped” in a courtroom. The court case will be decided by just seven of the court’s nine judges because Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver sat on an Ontario Court of Appeal panel that heard the N.S. case earlier this year. (To prevent a tie vote, the court has to drop a second judge from the panel.)
News Agencies – October 21, 2011
A car found at the bottom of an eastern Ontario canal with the bodies of three sisters and their father’s first wife suspended in the water inside seemed to trace a very deliberate path, a murder trial heard. In a case that has raised the issue of so-called honour killings, the Crown alleges the girls’ family couldn’t bear the “treachery” of their daughters having boyfriends, so they killed them and staged the scene to look like an accident.
Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, her husband, Mohammad Shafia, 58, and their son, Hamed Mohammad Shafia, 20, have each pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, Shafia’s first wife, who lived with the family in a polygamous relationship.
An expert will be called to testify about so-called honour killings and how in extreme cases, killing can be seen in some cultures as a way to restore honour to a family. Disobedience by a female member of the family can cause shame and taint family honour, the expert is expected testify. The trial is expected to last between two and three months.
News Agencies – September 22, 2011
Kenza Drider’s posters for the French presidential race are ready to go, months before the official campaign begins. There she is, the “freedom candidate,” pictured standing in front of a line of police – a forbidden veil hiding her face. Drider declared her candidacy in Meaux, the city east of Paris run by top conservative lawmaker and Sarkozy ally Jean-Francois Cope, who championed the ban.
Drider, 32, who has worn a face veil for 13 years, hasn’t shirked from denouncing the ban in the past. She was the only veiled woman to testify before an information commission of lawmakers studying a potential ban before the law was passed. With four children, Drider says she goes about the southern city of Avignon, where she lives, facing down insults but left alone by police.
News Agencies – September 7, 2011
Stephen Harper is using the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for political gain, the opposition says. To the NDP (New Democratic Party), the Prime Minister is sowing division on the eve of the 10th anniversary. And to the Liberals, Mr. Harper is trying to look tough by musing about changing the anti-terrorism laws.
The Prime Minister also vowed to bring back two controversial clauses in the Antiterrorism Act, parts of which expired in 2007. One clause allowed police to arrest suspects without a warrant and hold them for three days without charges if they believed a terrorist act had been committed; the other clause allowed a judge to compel a witness to testify in secret under penalty of jail if the witness refused. The act was passed in 2001 in reaction to the terrorist strikes on New York and Washington, but the controversial clauses expired in 2007.