In Sweden there is a law that prohibits the covering of faces in a courtroom (disguising with intent), even among the spectators. Are you amazed to learn that Muslim women wearing niqab think an exception should be made for them? And that their feelings are hurt?
And are you surprised that they think they have suffered discrimination at the hands of the Swedish judicial system?
Didn’t think you were.
Three niqab-clad women demand SEK 330,000 ($51,000) in damages for hurt feelings and discrimination
They are mass-offended. Let’s take it from the beginning. Lars Vilks was going to participate in an art exhibition at an art gallery called the Red Stone in Gothenburg a few years ago. That’s what Vilks wrote on his blog, but he never mentioned a specific date. His blog was read eagerly by four jihadists, but The Security Service (SÄPO) and the police were onto them. The police believe that the men’s intentions were to kill Vilks at the gallery.
Three Somalis and one Iraqi, all of them armed with knives, were arrested by the National Task Force and personnel from the police in Västra Götaland at the Central Station in Gothenburg shortly before the opening of the exhibition. One of the suspects was released, but the other three were arrested.
The three Somalis, Abdi Aziz Mahamud (born 1985) and Abdi Weli Mohamud (born 1985) and the Iranian, Salar Sami Mahmood (born 1987) were initially suspected of conspiring to commit a terrorist act, but at the first arraignment hearing the indictment was changed to murder preparation (conspiracy to commit murder) . Included in the indictment were also violations of the law concerning carrying knives in a public place. The prosecutor was able to prove that the suspects had downloaded massive amounts of propaganda from al-Qaeda, but failed to prove the preparations for murder. The suspects were acquitted by the Gothenburg District Court. The verdict was then brought before the Court of Appeals, which also acquitted the trio.
During the arraignment in the District Court three niqab-clad women appeared to show their support for the extremist Abdi Aziz Mahamud. The women, however, were evicted from the courtroom by Chief Judge Stefan Wikmark, with reference to the ‘disguise with intent’ law and for security reasons.
The women, who don’t seem to think that killing an artist with a knife in the name of Allah is a violation, nevertheless considered the fact that they were evicted from the courtroom a violation, and reported the incident to the DO (Discrimination Ombudsman).
JO, the Ombudsman for the Justice Department, decided to pursue the matter and in his opinion he criticizes Judge Wikmark. The JO believes that Wikmark’s decision lacks a basis in the law.
Wikmark in turn justifies his actions by saying that he accepts any attire in the courtroom, apart from the covering of the entire face, which he considers to be more than an issue of clothing. He believes that if witnesses, involved parties or plaintiffs are deprived of the opportunity to see and recognize those present in the courtroom, the rights of the former are diminished, something that might affect the arraignment itself which is not just a matter of policy, but also about the rule of law.
Wikmark dismisses the notion that his decision has a religious dimension and that the measure was discriminatory based on the women’s religion. He argues that the measures that he imposes are the same for everyone and that he would also have evicted individuals who had decided to cover their faces with ski goggles, motorcycle helmets or Halloween masks. Wikmark also notes that such cases would not have raised similar objections.
(But, as we all know by now, different rules apply for Muslims.)
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