Sunday, October 22, 2006

This bothers me

Just a simple contract dispute over a rental car, a case that by itself should probably have never gotten to court in the first place. Certainly not a case that anyone will remember for its actual claim.

The case might be remembered for another thing, however. The plaintiff- a devout Muslim woman- came to court wearing the niqab, a full face veil. The Judge told her to remove it.

The Judge said that in order to determine her credibility, he had to see her face. It makes sense- juries are told to watch the witness' facial expressions as one of the things to consider. Sometimes you can just tell when someone isn't quite telling the truth.

This is different, though- the niqab is a display of piety, not unlike a yarmulke. Can you imagine telling a nun to remove her habit because it unfairly implies honesty? Would an Amish witness be required to dress "fancy"?

I do not think it is driven by anti-Islamic animus, but insensitivity. I hope this goes up on appeal, I hope there is a ruling that will allow her to testify in the niqab. No one should have to choose between their day in court over a $2,000 repair bill or their conscience.