SHOULD WEARING A NIQAB IN COURT BE ALLOWED? – Kenneth Clarke has spoken out in an interview with the Daily Mail who thinks that no person should be allowed to cover their face during a court appearance; regardless of race, colour, creed or religion.
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Once again the issue of Muslim women wearing the Niqab in court has been raised and Kenneth Clarke feels that it is essential to justice that no person should be allowed to cover their face at trial – juries, according to Mr. Clarke rely on reading a person’s face in order to determine guilt or innocence, this is in addition to the issue of correctly identifying a person.
Regardless of what politicians may think; with some quarters such as Baroness Warsi who feel that a Muslim’s rights would be infringed if such a ban were imposed, the public appears, from our research alone, to be fully supportive of a ban.
So what are the general perceptions of the public? The most common argument appears to be that of ‘culture’. Many feel that the Muslim mode of dress, including covering everything but the eyes, is not inductive of British culture and therefore it should be banned both inside and outside the courts – that is Muslims should not be permitted to cover their faces anywhere in Britain.
Another argument appears to be that of religion which is twofold. Firstly the niqab is more of a personal choice rather than a strict religious requirement under Islam and therefore if it is not a strict requirement then it should not be worn at all.
Secondly the niqab, or indeed any other form of ‘religious’ dress, that does not conform to Christianity, should be outlawed. It is perceived that Britain is supposedly a Christian country not a Muslim country.
From the comments surrounding this issue it also goes beyond religion but also that of culture. Many feel that British culture is under constant attack from foreigner who attempts to impose their cultural, and indeed religious, beliefs upon the British public.
This particular issue is further enhanced with the realisation that Britain is not the multicultural cohesive society that our Government claims. In fact studies clearly show that Britain has become highly segregated into cultural and religious communities and in the process has created greater community tensions through suspicion and distrust; or worse hatred.
The debate for banning the niqab within the judicial process is erring on the side that justice must never be subjected to being hidden behind a veil; it was of course James I who declared that ‘justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.’
It is the very reason why we have public galleries within our courts and if we allow a person to be permitted to wear a niqab or indeed anything that obscures their identity, surely threatens the very fabric of British justice.
Again comments on such an issue suggest that allowing a person to hide their identity would not allow the judge, jury, prosecutors or defenders to adequately verify the actual identity of a person either giving evidence or standing trail.
We also have to look deeper within the security aspects; after all would a bank permit a person wearing a balaclava or motorcycle crash helmet to enter a bank?
The consensus from the public at least appears to be that the niqab should be banned along with any other type of religious dress for it has no place in the British culture.
It is unquestionable from our perspective that this issue will not be debated from the arena of security and sensibility but rather from the galleries of racism and bigotry regardless of its validity in this particular debate.