Woman should remove burqa: Oz court
Sydney: A lawyer in an Australian court has argued that a Muslim woman should remove her burqa while giving evidence, just as she would have to while appearing in an Islamic court.
But the court in Perth hearing the lawyer`s submission Thursday rejected the argument as not relevant, Australian news agency AAP reported.
District Court Judge Shauna Deane said the defence counsel`s submission, that in Islamic courts women had to remove their burqas, was not relevant as the matter was not being heard in an Islamic court.
The witness, Tasneem, who does not want her surname to be published, wants to wear a full burqa while giving evidence in the fraud trial of Muslim school director Anwar Sayed, the report said.
Judge Deane told the court she did not think her decision would set an Australian court precedent on the burqa, as she would only be making a ruling for the case before her.
She said she would make her decision Aug 19 once she had given the matter the "thoroughness it deserves".
Defence lawyer Mark Trowell raised concerns about how the jury was expected to read the woman`s facial expressions if they could not see her face.
He also expressed concern that his client, Sayed, had received death threats via phone calls and handwritten notes over the burqa issue.
Prosecutor Mark Ritter told the court 36-year-old Tasneem wanted to give evidence but would feel uncomfortable without her burqa and that could prejudice the way she presented her evidence.
Tasneem, who has been living in Australia for seven years, had worn the burqa since the age of 17 and usually only removed it for her family, Ritter said.
Trowell said Tasneem`s choice to wear the burqa was a "preference she has". "It`s not an essential part of the Islamic faith. If she was in an Islamic court she would be required to remove it."
Judge Deane replied: "This isn`t an Islamic court."
Tasneem was an Islamic studies teacher at the Muslim Ladies College of Australia in Kenwick, south of Perth, in 2006. The school is run by Muslim Link Australia and Sayed is the director.
Sayed is the accused of fraudulently obtaining up to $752,000 from a total of $1.125 million in state and federal grants for the school by falsifying enrolment numbers.
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