Judge considers allowing burqa

2010-08-05 15:38
Perth – A Muslim witness in an Australian fraud trial has requested permission to wear an all-covering burqa in court, in a case that has sparked nationwide interest and comments from campaigning politicians.

District Court Judge Shauna Deane heard submissions on Thursday from lawyers on both sides about whether the 36-year-old woman should be allowed to wear a burqa while giving evidence.

The woman is a prosecution witness in the case against the director of a company that ran a Muslim women's college who is accused of inflating student numbers to claim extra grant money.

Defence lawyers raised concerns that the jury would not be able to read the woman's facial expressions if she is veiled, therefore making it difficult to assess her testimony.

Prosecutor Mark Ritter told the court that the woman – an Islamic studies teacher – wanted to give evidence but would feel highly uncomfortable without the covering and that could affect her evidence.

"It goes beyond stress... it would have a negative impact," Ritter said.

He said the woman, who has lived in Australia for seven years, has worn the burqa since the age of 17 and only removes it when she is with her family.

Comparison to France and Belgium


The witness is testifying in the case against Anwar Sayed, director of a company that ran the Perth college. Sayed allegedly inflated the number of students at the school in 2006 and 2007 to claim more than $916 000 in state and federal grants.

While the judge has said her decision would not set a precedent on wearing the burqa in Australia, the issue has prompted comparisons to France and Belgium, where efforts are under way to ban the wearing of Islamic face veils.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who hopes to become prime minister in elections later this month, said on Wednesday that he opposed the wearing of burqas.

"I find the burqa a particularly confronting form of attire and I would very much wish that fewer Australians would choose it," Abbott said.

A Muslim community leader in Perth told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that it is culturally acceptable for a woman to take off her veil during legal proceedings.

"From a strictly Islamic perspective, a woman is required to remove her face covering in a court of law," Sheik Feizel Chothia said om Thursday.

The judge said she will hand down her decision on August 19.

- AP
Read more on:    tony abbott  |  australia
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You tend to feel more comfortable on an intellectual level. The deep emotional under current today can make you feel a little...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.