British judge calls for better religious tolerance – says Muslim women should be allowed to wear face veil

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SHAFAQNA  – Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said courts should show respect towards different cultures, which includes allowing women to wear the Muslim niqab.

He said judges must have “an understanding of different cultural and social habits”, in their bid to show fairness to those involved in trials.

Lord Neuberger said: “Well known examples include how some religions consider it inappropriate to take the oath

He continued: “How some people consider it rude to look other people in the eye, how some women find it inappropriate to appear in public with their face uncovered

“And how some people deem it inappropriate to confront others or to be confronted – for instance with an outright denial.”

The judge’s comments come amid continued uncertainty over the full-faced veil in British courts.

Rebekah Dawson, a Muslim woman accused of witness intimidation, was jailed for six months in 2003 after she refused to remove her veil while giving evidence.

But in 2013 a judge allowed another Muslim woman accused of witness intimidation to appear in the dock donning a full-face veil.

Judge Peter Murphy reluctantly gave permission to the woman so that the court could “move on”.

Judge Murphy allowed the woman to simply confirm her identity by lifting the veil in front of a female police officer in a side room of Blackfriars Crown Court in London.

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