Can religion put you above the law?
Today a muslim woman accused of witness intimidation was told that she is allowed to stand trial wearing a full-face veil but must remove it while giving evidence. The country this took place in is UK.
Earlier this woman argued that she was unable to remove the face covering when men are present - for religious reasons...so the judge then allowed her to enter the dock to plead not guilty while wearing a niqab.
They got over the conclusive identification problem with a help of a female police officer who saw her face when she was photographed after her arrest. The police woman had a private viewing with her in a room at the court and identified that this was the same woman that was arrested.
But now she has to remove it to give evidence to reveal her facial expressions to jury. If she refuses, "the judge will not allow her to give evidence and the jury is given a clear direction in the terms suggested in the Bench Book about the defendant's failure to give evidence.'
The judge said: 'Balancing the right of religious manifestation against the rights and freedoms of the public, the press and other interested parties such as the complainant in the proper administration of justice, the latter must prevail over D's right to manifest her religion or belief during the proceedings against her to the extent necessary in the interests of justice.
'No tradition or practice, whether religious or otherwise, can claim to occupy such a privileged position that the rule of law, open justice and the adversarial trial process are sacrificed to accommodate it.
'That is not a discrimination against religion, it is a matter of upholding the rule of law in a democratic society.'
I agree with the judge. But what do you think?
When it is justice against religion which one should rule?
In my opinion justice as otherwise we are not equal in front of law.
And this is not an invitation for anyone to start bashing muslims, so please do not use this to attack the religion itself as this could be a question for other religions as well. I just happened to read about this ruling today.
EDIT: I added the country information - it is rather relevant to know which country's laws the accused has to respect.