Islam is not on trial in judge's burqa ruling

10 August 2010

Fairness is the only issue in a witness's request to keep her face covered, write Dr Fleur Johns and Dr Jacqueline Mowbray, in today's edition of The National Times.

"There 'will never be a substitute for the face of a man, with his soul in it', Charles Dickens famously wrote.

"A window into a person's conscience is supposedly what the face provides.

The faces of liars, in particular, reveal them, or so television programs such as Lie to Me would have us believe.

"Hence the alarm over a Perth fraud case in which a woman's entitlement to testify for the prosecution while wearing a face-covering burqa or niqab is in dispute.

"Yet there is clearly more at stake in this case than jurors' and judges' ability to assess witness veracity.

"Commentary would have an entirely different tenor if the facial concealment took another form.

"Consider, for instance, a scenario in which a recent burns victim is called to give evidence.

"Imagine it is possible for her to remove the protective bandages she wears over her face, but to do so would cause pain and distress.

"Politicians and pundits would be unlikely to speak of such a case in the charged register in which the Perth fraud trial of Muslim school director Anwar Sayed has been discussed."

View the entire article - Islam is not on trial in judge's burqa ruling - The National Times

Contact: Greg Sherington

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