Friday, 29 June 2007

"Shocked and distressed"

Ian Murray, a magistrate based in Manchester, has precipitated a row after refusing to sit on the trial of a Muslim woman who attended court wearing a full veil. The woman, Zoobia Hussain, who is charged with causing £5,000 of criminal damage, apparently intends to make a formal complaint against Mr Murray.

Magistrates and judges are supposed to tolerate women wearing the full veil in court unless it "interferes with the administration of justice". Quite how allowing a defendant to wear the full veil in the dock would not interfere with the administration of justice is unclear to me. After all, it is presumably rather an important aspect of the administration of justice that justice be administered to the right person, something that can't be guaranteed if the apparent defendant is completely covered from head to toe. One somehow doubts that a Christian defendant who arrived at court wearing a balaclava helmet would be allowed to keep it on.

Hussain's solicitor described her client as "shocked and distressed" by the incident, adding:
She suffered hurt feelings and felt intimidated and deeply embarrassed by the treatment she received at court.


Really, though, I can't see what the problem is for Hussain. Mr Murray gave no reason for withdrawing from the case; perhaps he should have done. But if he does share the common aversion to the Muslim veil, in all its various forms, then his decision to recuse himself from the case can be seen as simply ensuring that, despite her dubious and offensive choice of clothing, Hussain receives a fair trial. Certainly, she's hardly going to lose out because Mr Murray personally will not be on the bench for her case.

And as for her "hurt feelings": well, if I were facing trial, with the possibility of conviction and a criminal record, I think that my concerns would lie with matters more weighty than the question whether the magistrates treated my sartorial foibles with sufficient sensitivity. Besides which, given the widespread dislike of this item of clothing, and given the anti-British and anti-Western message that those wearing it commonly intend to send out, she can't really expect to be treated any better, particularly when the problems of identification that I have already mentioned are taken into account.

I really doubt whether her feelings are actually hurt one jot. Indeed, she's probably enjoying the attention she's getting, and the delicious feeling of being a poor oppressed victim for Allah. However, like the Shabina Begum case, I imagine that the whole row has been blown up out of proportion by Hussain, probably encouraged, as Begum was, by professional agitators, in an attempt to push an Islamist agenda. Simply put, if they can succeed in their machinations against Ian Murray, then it's unlikely that any other judge or magistrate will dare to raise any objections next time a Muslim woman enters their courtroom - whether as defendant, lawyer, juror, witness, or anything else - wearing a full veil. And that will be another little victory for the forces of Islamification.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Social injustice goes hand in hand with religious diversity in British public life. Time for change.
Join/support Secular Political Party.