January 24, 2007, - 10:12 am

Oy: Detroit Area Muslim Woman Gets Re-Hearing on Wearing Face Veil in Court; UPDATED: Bad Reporter Got it Wrong

By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****
Last year, I wrote about courageous Hamtramckstan, Michigan Judge Paul Paruk, who refused to allow Ginnah Muhammad to wear her niqab (a full face veil) in court.
He stated that he could not gauge truthfulness of Muhammad’s testimony if she wore the niqab while testifying. Since she refused to remove it, Judge Paruk dismissed her small claims lawsuit against a rental car company.
Unfortunately, Muhammad is getting a second bite at the apple. She’s been granted another hearing, according to the Detroit Free Press, after she appealed. Free Press reporter Zachary Gorchow didn’t do his job adequately, and his story is unclear as to why Muhammad got the new hearing. Did Paruk grant it to her on his own volition because she appealed? Or did the appellate court order Paruk to do so (the more likely scenario)? Or was Muhammad’s appeal successful on other grounds?

niqabginnahmuhammad.jpg

Ginnah Muhammad

We don’t know why, because, again, reporter Gorchow ain’t a good reporter.
Will Muhammad be allowed to wear her niqab on February 21st or will Paruk continue to be courageous and do the right thing–requiring Muhammad to remove her face-veil if she wishes to testify and pursue her case?
As I wrote last October:

Judge Paruk’s courage is immense with this move because he made it in the most unlikely place in America to do so and survive politically. He’s probably written his career death sentence with his policy toward the niqab. He is a judge in Hamtramckstan, which is fast becoming a combination of Little Sana’a (Yemen’s capital), Little Pristina (Kosovo’s capital), and Little Bangladesh.
What was once a Polish Catholic-dominated town encompassed by the City of Detroit is fast becoming a tiny caliphate. Press accounts have documented the mysterious burning down of a Hindu temple, violent Islamic attacks on non-Muslim, Black males at Hamtramck Public Schools, the first legally sanctioned Muslim call to prayer in the nation, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

Will Judge Paruk stand tough and stick to his guns. We should hope so.
Stay tuned.
**** UPDATE, 01/26/07: Well, just as I wrote, Detroit Free Press reporter Zachary Gorchow got it all wrong. Ginnah Muhammad will NOT get a re-hearing on her lawsuit in which she was lost the case because she refused to testify without wearing her niqab. This new hearing is actually with regard to a new lawsuit, in which she is the defendant. There has been no backtracking by Judge Paruk or any appellate court on the face-veil issue. Glad to hear it. Here’s the e-mail clarifying this, which I received from the clerk of that court:

Ms. Schlussel,
I recently posted this response in your weblog. I also wanted to send it to you directly. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
In response to the most recent newspaper articles which contained many inaccuracies, I thought it important for everyone to know the status of these matters.
Here are the facts:
The original case where Ms. Muhammad was the plaintiff and refused to remove her veil was dismissed. She did not appeal that case. That case is now closed.
The following statements in the newspaper articles, “Ms. Muhammad appealed,” “Woman who refused to remove veil granted new hearing,” “Hearing will reconsider Paruk’s order,” and “She’ll keep veil in new hearing,” are incorrect.
Judge Paruk’s original decision of not allowing a veiled person to testify in court still stands.
There is a new lawsuit involving Ms. Muhammad pending in the 31st District Court but in this lawsuit Ms. Muhammad is the defendant, not the plaintiff. No pre-trial issues have been raised and this matter is scheduled for trial in February.
I hope this sets the record straight.
Alice Kopecky
Court Administrator
31st District Court

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4 Responses

What about using the airport scanner technology that allows viewers to look Ôø?throughÔø? the clothing as at London;s Heathrow Airport? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/08/heathrow_scanner_pilot Bet that would p*** her off, too!

dm60462 on January 24, 2007 at 11:14 am

I don’t think the veil is required by the Koran, so Muslim women who choose to wear the veil in Western countries are nuts. I don’t see how the force removal of the veil in a US court can be seen as religious discrimination since it’s not warranted by the religion (i.e., Islam). And participants in a case have to be identified in court right?
If Judge Paruk doesn’t stick to his guns, it will probably be because he doesn’t want the case to be thrown back on some appeal rather than just backing down.

Norman Blitzer on January 24, 2007 at 11:32 am

Well, maybe she she be told that if she wears the face covering that her testimony is worth only a fraction of a males testimony and that corporal punishment may be handed out to her. (And hopefully her legal representatives)

bigbigdave on January 24, 2007 at 1:23 pm

In response to the most recent newspaper articles which contained many inaccuracies, I thought it important for everyone to know the status of these matters.
Here are the facts:
The original case where Ms. Muhammad was the plaintiff and refused to remove her veil was dismissed. She did not appeal that case. That case is now closed.
The following statements in the newspaper articles, ìMs. Muhammad appealedî, ìWoman who refused to remove veil granted new hearingî, ìhearing will reconsider Parukís orderî and ìSheíll keep veil in new hearingî are incorrect.
Judge Parukís original decision of not allowing a veiled person to testify in court still stands.
There is a new lawsuit involving Ms. Muhammad pending in the 31st District Court but in this lawsuit Ms. Muhammad is the defendant, not the plaintiff. No pre-trial issues have been raised and this matter is scheduled for trial in February.
I hope this sets the record straight.
Alice Kopecky
Court Administrator
31st District Court

akopecky on January 26, 2007 at 2:00 pm

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