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Tue 20 Mar 2012 04:41 PM

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UK judge orders veiled Muslim to stand down from jury

Female juror thrown out of court after refusing to remove Islamic veil

UK judge orders veiled Muslim to stand down from jury
A Muslim women was thrown off a jury in a UK court case after refusing a judge’s order to remove her veil.. (Getty Images)

A Muslim women was thrown off a jury during a UK court case
after refusing a judge’s order to remove her veil.

In what appears to be a first for the country, the un-named
woman was told she could not serve on the jury for an attempted murder trial as her face
was covered by a niqab, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

Prior to taking a legal oath amid legal proceedings at
London’s Blackfriars Crown Court, Judge Aidan Marron QC asked that the woman remove her veil.

When she refused, Judge Marron replied: “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

She was replaced by a white, male juror, according to the Daily Mail.

Following the incident, Massoud Shadjareh,
chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told the newspaper: “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

While the case appears to be a precedent in the
UK, there have been several notable examples of Muslim females in
continental Europe being ordered to remove veils.

Earlier this month, French president Nicolas
Sarkozy called for clear labeling of halal meat and an end to separate
swimming hours for Muslim females in public schools as he vowed to defend
secular rules in France.

France banned the public wearing of face veils last year,
including Arabic-style niqab and Afghan-style burqa. Those caught wearing them
were liable to a fine of up to €150 or mandatory lessons in French citizenship.

Lawmakers in the Netherlands and Belgium have recently
introduced similar legislation for their respective countries.

In Australia, Muslim females are required to remove Islamic veils for the purpose of identity checks.

Faris Khan 7 years ago

Look, if Westerners come to UAE or anywhere else in the Middle East they are expected to abide by local customs. In the UK it is not "normal" to see people covering the faces in such a way. It is not required practice therefore it is right that she was required to comply with British culture. You cannot expect to go to UK and live as YOU want ,you must abide by local cultures.

Anthony 7 years ago

Look, Faris in UAE or anywhere else in the Middle East no foreigner is forced to wear the face veil, as per the local customs. So please avoid praising the west for their stupid decisions. For them there are other important issues to be addressed but they are just focussing how to make the muslim women in line with their women, who is already suffering.

Expat 7 years ago

@Anthony - thank you for your ignorant input in this matter. Clearly you need to travel around the Middle East a little more, if a lady goes to Iran she is forced to wear a head scarf and long sleeves, if a foreign lady goes to KSA she is forced to wear and Abaya in public. The UAE is no place to use as a reference for the rest of the Middle East, as you will read and find it is truly a gem of social acceptance and cultural awareness.
As for our women suffering, I believe they are allowed to take part in any sport or tournament, study any course or degree, setup any business or grow to any level in a corporation, much like any man is free to do here in the ME.
As Faris said, the UK is a country formed on Christian cultures and beliefs, and we dont believe in covering our womens faces unless its a funeral or wedding; neither of these situations were occuring in this court.
If you dont like it dont go - us westerners inhave the same option in the Middle East and we abide.

Firoz Merchant 7 years ago

Judiciary is not based on culture or how you are dress.

Firoz Merchant

Gloria 7 years ago

There is a difference between here and the west. These people have immigrated to the UK and attained citizenship i.e. gotten a new passport and country ( or she would not have been allowed to stand on the jury). In this case it is required she adopt the rugulatyions of her " new country". Here in the UAE we do not have the right to citizenship.

When you make decisions to immigate and attain citizenship of another country then you have to be prepared to accept the consequences of that action.

Anthony I do not know how you think western women are suffering other than in the usual way of minority women at the hands of abuse. The trouble here is most cases are not reported and therefore no-one knows. Western laws protect women from this and they have no fear of speaking out.

Ali 7 years ago

I think you are the one being ignorant. 2 countries in the entire Middle East require women to wear veils, while the rest do not. You sound as if the UAE is the only country where dress restrictions are relaxed when in reality, 5 out of 6 Gulf countries are relatively relaxed compared to Saudi Arabia.

zooey 7 years ago

How times have changed! in 1994 I was required to report for jury duty, and I turned up even though I was reluctant.. the clerk of the court told me that wearing a niqab was NO EXCUSE, I had to do my duty. I agreed, but then when we were chatting about it, I mentioned to him that I had no faith in the British judicial system, (FREE BABAR AHMED!!) and THEN he let me off.

Faris: you obviously haven't been to any Muslim areas in Yorkshire or Leicester. Or go to Coventry Road Birmingham, or Stratford Road. you will see not 1 or 2, but 20 women walking around freely and wearing niqab or burqa.
But take off the niqab for ID purposes? of course we do! we aren't MAD you know.
- Muslimah - white British born and bred.

rouzbeh 7 years ago

Oh Expat,
Thank you for your ignorant input. Its so sad that your comment on iran is so ignorant. you too, probably get all your info from the TV . Please travel to Tehran and see how the girls dress.

Expat 7 years ago

Hi Ali

Your choice of words in the last line doesnt support your argument. Considering that 5 out of 6 countries are "relatively relaxed compared to Saudi Arabia" doesnt do you any favours. As comparing something to an extreme doesnt give a good mean. Compared to the Nazi's Al Qaeda are not that bad - but realistics it isnt that good either.
Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Syria and Bahrain all require western women to dress modestly. Maybe some are not enforced as strictly as others, but the law is there.

Doug 7 years ago

Trial by jury is based on being fair, impartial, open and transparent.

Covering your face is neither fair, nor transparent.

We're not privy to the exact details of this case. But here's a thought. If this lady has her face covered, she is not immediately identifiable to anyone in the court. Surely then there is a security risk in that someone connected to the accused could use this to their advantage? Use your imagination.

There are also other issues too - at least one juror in the UK has collapsed a trial because she was listening to an iPod under her veil instead of doing her civic duty, and there have also been instances where members of the court have been unable to hear important personnel because they have worn a veil which has muffled their voice.