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Friday, July 24, 2009

Ruling: Muslim things not that different from other things

The Juidicial Council of Georgia, the policy-making body for Georgia courts, brought a welcome degree common sense to Georgia's courtrooms by making it clear in a policy statement released today that Hijabs — headscarves traditionally worn by Muslim women — may, like similar head coverings allowed for religious or medical purposes, be worn inside those buildings and during official proceedings.

The official ruling states:

“Head coverings are prohibited from the courtroom except in cases where the covering is worn for medical or religious reasons. To the extent security requires a search of a person wearing a head covering for medical or religious reasons, the individual has the option of having the inspection performed by a same-sex officer in a private area. The individual is allowed to put his or her own head covering back on after the inspection is complete.”

This stems from the December 2008 case of Lisa Valentine, who refused to remove her hijab, saying it would violate her religion, and was found in contempt of court by Judge Keith Rollins and ordered to serve 10 days in jail. The AJC has noted multiple other instances of Muslims being ordered to remove their Hijabs at the discretion of a judge.

Valentine testified before the Council, whose chair, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, put forward the argument that should have been abundantly obvious from the start:

“If this had been a nun, no one would have required her to remove her habit... I think this is a good rule, and I think it’s clear.”

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