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Muslim woman removed from jury for refusing to take off veil

London, Tue, 20 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 20 (ANI): A Muslim woman was taken off from a jury because she refused to remove her veil.


In an extraordinary ruling, a judge said that she could not sit on an attempted murder trial because her full face covering, known as the niqab, concealed her expressions.


The woman was about to take the oath in the case at Blackfriars Crown Court in London when the judge interrupted to ask if she was prepared to remove the garment which covered her whole face, apart from a narrow slit through which her eyes could be seen.


Judge Aidan Marron QC, said it was "desirable" that her face was "exposed" during the trial and asked her to remove the veil.


When she refused she was told to stand down and a white male member of the jury pool was sworn in her place.


"I wonder whether I can address the lady who is veiled," the Daily Mail quoted Judge Marron as saying in the presence of the rest of the jury.


"Would you prefer not to remove your veil in this particular case?" he said.he woman, who was wearing western clothing including a fitted grey jacket, replied: "Yes."


Judge Marron then told her to step down from the jury duty.


"I entirely understand that, but in this particular case it is desirable that your face is exposed, so I'm going to invite you to stand down. I hope you understand," he said.


The ruling, which is thought to be one of the first of its kind in Britain, has sparked outrage.


"This is totally unacceptable. I really can't understand why facial expressions could have any impact on the judge, the judgment or anyone else in a trial. It has no relevance," Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said.


"I'm speechless that you can exclude someone on the basis of the way that they dress.


"It's very worrying that a judge is being prejudiced against women wearing a veil," Shadjareh said.


Official guidelines state that veils can be worn in court although senior judges should decide on a case-by-case basis. (ANI)


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