Face to face

Muslim woman agrees to lift niqab in German court to avoid jail or fine

(JULIEN WARNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

A Muslim woman in Munich, Germany, who was testifying in the trial of a man she had accused of hurling racial abuse at her, agreed to lift her niqab in front of the judge, as she was told she could face time in jail or a fine if she refused to do so. Last year, the 59-year old man accused of the abuse was acquitted because the woman, Amira Behari, had refused to reveal her face in the witness stand.  The judge had told her he needed to be able to read her emotions, saying: “I need to see you otherwise there will be considerable problems in adjudicating your case.”

As she refused to do so on religious grounds, the man was acquitted — a decision which prompted outrage, and eventually led to a retrial. For the second trial, she was told she could face a fine or jail time if she did not lift her veil, and the court consulted with Koranic authorities who ruled it acceptable for Behari to reveal her face in front of judge, police and prosecutors. She then decided to testify, showing her face to the judge but with her back to those sitting in the public gallery. Despite her testimony, the judge acquitted the man for the second time.

Read the full story at The Independent.

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