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The Veil: Twice Dismissed

May 13, 2008
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I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Judge Paul Paruk (per-ROOK) requested she remove her veil during a 2006 hearing in the town of Hamtramck (ham-TRA’-mick). She was contesting a $3,000 charge from a rental-car company to repair a vehicle she said thieves had broken into.

Paruk told her he needed to see her face to judge her truthfulness and gave her a choice: Take off the veil have the case dismissed. She kept it on and sued the judge last year alleging he violated her religious and civil rights. source

Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed her case against that judge.

 

14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2008 1:39 am

    Salaam,

    Perhaps that judge had never seen the statue of justice personified!

    If he had kept that in mind, he would have known that he didn’t need to see her face to pronounce a judgment.

    Some cases might even be better off if juries/judges couldn’t see the plaintiffs/defendants because, as humans, we are all subconsciously affected by articles of faith, gender, class, race, etc.

    Warmly,
    Baraka

  2. May 14, 2008 10:34 pm

    Salaams Baraka – thanks for the image link – very true.

    The woman had offered to remove her veil in front of a female judge but this was the only judge for the district and so it was remove the veil or get the case dismissed. IMO, she shouldn’t even have offered that – he’s a judge, not a psychologist (although if he was a psychologist it most likely wouldn’t have gone to this point.)

  3. May 17, 2008 6:06 am

    More on Ms. Muhammad, the woman involved:

    Muhammad said she routinely removes her veil at the request of female airport screeners, who check her in a private room.

    Muhammad said that’s the procedure a court security officer used Tuesday to screen her, and the procedure that was used to have her driver’s license photo taken by the Michigan Secretary of State.

    Everyone else has accommodated her,” her lawyer, Nabih Ayad of Plymouth, said after Tuesday’s hearing, in which Muhammad sought to prevent Paruk from requiring other Muslim women to remove their veils in court.
    link

    1) It’s not incumbent on “everyone” to accommodate and make concessions to one specific group of people. Whether it’s rich, white men or veiled Muslim women, no one should be given preferential treatment based on religion, color, sex, ethnicity, etc.

    2) Sexual segregation is, undeniably, intrinsic to the way many, many, many, many Muslims practice Islam. Sexual segregation is not necessarily sexist or bigoted, for example, male and female showers at the gym. Why is sexual segregation and discrimination so important in Islam? If there is no acceptable reasoning behind the practice,† I see no reason why a judge should accommodate.

    † Hollering “Freedom of Religion” (and I’m not necessarily saying this is what Ms. Muhammad is doing) is not sufficient. Ms. Muhammad, like all Americans, does not have a right to do as she pleases due to some mythologized “Freedom of Religion.” There’s no such thing.

    Americans have an absolute right to believe anything they so choose (this is why I believe in Zeus, Athene and Hestia and the Great Gods on Mt. Olympus). However, this does not mean we can do what we please (my religious practices of sacrificing animals and having sacred orgies are restricted if not illegal). This misunderstanding arises, imho, from lack of knowledge about The Belief-Conduct Distinction.

    with liberty and justice for all.

    Indeed.

    Liberty does not mean no fixed rules, and Justice does not mean cultural/religious relativity.

  4. May 17, 2008 3:55 pm

    Problem with the Belief-Conduct Distinction – it doesn’t apply to this because there is no law saying that Ms. Mohamed may not wear her veil and there most likely never will be: Instead, the Court began to balance the secular interest asserted by the government against the claim of religious liberty asserted by the person affected; only if the governmental interest was “compelling” and if no alternative forms of regulation would serve that interest was the claimant required to yield.193 Thus, while freedom to engage in religious practices was not absolute, it was entitled to considerable protection.

    So, let’s move on to point number 1. This is not about “everyone” making an accomodation. This is about Ms. Mohamed having to make an accomodation for the judge so that the judge can play lie detector through facial observation – a method that is not proven. And since we’re going here – he could have had his questions asked while she was being polygraphed.

    Point 2 – “Why is sexual segregation and discrimination so important in Islam? If there is no acceptable reasoning behind the practice,† I see no reason why a judge should accommodate.” There’s still something called separation of church and state – it goes both ways. This isn’t some rule that is a recomendation, if you can you should, or allowed – those who follow this rule see it as a must. The practice is not life threatening or hazardous nor does it cause socio-economic difficulties so again the belief-conduct distinction wouldn’t be applicable.

  5. May 17, 2008 6:04 pm

    This is about Ms. Mohamed having to make an accomodation for the judge so that the judge can play lie detector through facial observation – a method that is not proven. And since we’re going here – he could have had his questions asked while she was being polygraphed.

    That’s not what her lawyer says in the quote above. Anyway, personally, I think the judge should have been able to hear the case niqab or no niqab, so I agree with you there. I also think that Ms. Muhammad should have removed her veil for a male judge. I do understand that it’s against her religion, but that still doesn’t negate the fact that it’s sexist. I’m not trying to slam the religion, I’m just saying, there’s no reason for a court in the United States to accommodate a sexist practice.

    I know that some disagree, so I have a question.

    What about those Muslims who despise Jews (and lets not pretend that they don’t exist)? Should Muslims who use religion to justify antisemitism be allowed to pick and choose non-Jewish judges?

    And yes, I know that antisemitism is not mandatory in Islam.

    Is sexism?

  6. May 18, 2008 5:38 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but being screened in a private room is a right not an accomodation.

    “I’m just saying, there’s no reason for a court in the United States to accommodate a sexist practice.”

    Ahhhh .. but it is not illegal for an individual to be sexist. It becomes illegal when one is being sexist on an official capacity – employee, individual advertising sexist/discriminatory practices but a person can be a sexist – that’s not illegal.

    The problem here is that an official of the government is behaving in a manner not constitutional. There is no law banning this attire in court. There is no law stating that a persons face must be seen so as to make judgements on truthfulness.

    Quite honestly, I was wondering earlier why they didn’t go after the judge for sexual harrasment and religious freedom.

    Had the judge asked a woman to remove her make-up because said make-up was making it hard for him to determine she was being truthful – this would have been a sexual harrasment case and it most likely wouldn’t have been dismissed.

    “Is sexism”

    This is not exactly about sexism either – this is about a woman’s right as to who is going to see what parts of her body and in this case it has religious background. But, if we take religion out of the picture and plainly put it this way – If a woman would feel violated to be seen by a male and not by a female – does this make her actions sexist? So, if we can understand the locker room situation, we should be able to understand this situation in the same context. Most likely does she not only feel religiously obligated but in her case she may feel naked without her niqab.

    So, does a judge have the right to order someone to be violated or have the case dismissed?

  7. May 18, 2008 7:35 pm

    The problem here is that an official of the government is behaving in a manner not constitutional. There is no law banning this attire in court. There is no law stating that a persons face must be seen so as to make judgements on truthfulness.

    I think I might have heard from a friend who knows the brother of someone who might have possibly been in court on several occasions. That said, here in VA (or so I’ve heard :p ), the judges can get away with a lot. For example, this reminds me of a judge who forced a young man (who by now, I’m sure, has changed his ways) to wear a belt to court so that his jeans would stay up around his waste (contrary to the style and the young man’s wishes). I see the situations as being very similar.

    If I recall correctly, Ms. Muhammad’s complaint against the judge was thrown out not because of the merits of her complaint, but because of limitations of the second court’s authority to over-rule the first court. I wish I had more information about this, for example, the exact terms of the agreement between Ms. Muhammad and the judge, and the reasons for the case against the judge being thrown out.

    I’m not as outraged by this as some, for I think that all parties involved were being stubborn. However, I suppose being stubborn can be a virtue if one is upholding faith and if one is upholding the law.

    This isn’t a clear cut case, imo. For just as it is questionable as to the legal basis for the judge needing to see a complainant’s face, the status of hijab is certainly open for discussion and is, in fact, discussed by Muslimaat in America and elsewhere.

  8. May 19, 2008 8:25 pm

    The way I remember it is that the judge could have ruled in her favor but also had an out. I will look for the statement by the judge as there was supposed to be one comming but was not out at the time I wrote the post.

    “the status of hijab is certainly open for discussion and is, in fact, discussed by Muslimaat in America and elsewhere.”

    Not really – as long as there is one single person out there wearing hijab that insists it is their religious obligation – this will always be seen as a freedom of religion issue.

    That is not to say that every single instance of a person claiming that their hijab caused them to be discriminated against is valid but in a case where a woman’s hijab cost her access to the legal system – it is going to be pretty cut and dry.

  9. Lynn permalink
    May 22, 2008 11:21 am

    There is a sign up at my local bank that says that sunglasses, hoods and hats or anything that obscures the face must be removed before approaching the counter. Should they make accomodations for a niqqabi?

    If Ms Mohamed were to use a polygraph test instead of removing her face veil should she pay the bill for said polygraph test? Polygraph techs don’t come cheap.

  10. May 22, 2008 5:28 pm

    Lynn – This thought came through my mind earlier – like what if they are writting a check at a cash register and need identification but then the thought occured to me that we’re never hearing or seeing such stories. Could it possibly be that women in niqab are adapting to rules and regulations of this country so as not to impose themselves upon everyone?

    Should the bank make accomodations for the niqabi? Banks and institutions have had to make far more costly accomodations for customers – americans with disabilities. Do you believe that people with disabilities should not be accomodated?

    “Polygraph techs don’t come cheap.”

    Neither do discrimination cases.

  11. May 22, 2008 7:27 pm

    Actually, there have been many cases that I’ve been hearing about in which Muslim women have been denied service at a bank California Bank Refuses to Open Account for Muslim Woman Wearing Headscarf (temporarily, mind you), and of banks accommodating Muslim women, but not allowing “hoodies” Washington Mutual an unfriendly place for a hood

    Interesting that the garment worn by the woman in the first story (the one denied a bank account) covers about the same amount of her head as a hoodie would.

  12. May 22, 2008 7:28 pm

    Oops, I think I messed up the first link:

    http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=7361

  13. May 22, 2008 7:43 pm

    Note that in your first example that the women went to another branch of the same bank and was allowed a bank account. Also, while it has been suggested that she sue – they chose not to because they didn’t want money they just don’t want to be discriminated against.

    As for her scarf covering the same amount of her head as a hoodie would – that’s not exactly true – her scarf makes her face visible – a hoodie on the other hand can obscure the face from people standing in front of the person let alone overhead video.

    Niqab on the other hand hides the face completely – so I can understand security issues but I’m sure banks themselves would be willing to accomodate – as seems to be the case with Washington Mutual.

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