Monday, July 02, 2007

Paris on the Withlacoochee

As goes France, so goes Valdosta:

A Muslim woman seeking to contest a simple speeding ticket was denied access to the Valdosta courtroom of Municipal Court Judge Vernita Lee Bender because she was wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf.

The day of her hearing, 20-year-old Aniisa Karim said she walked in the front doors of the Municipal Court building and was told that she would not be permitted to enter the courtroom with her scarf on even after she explained to the security officer that she is not permitted by her religion to remove the scarf in public. Karim said the officer called for his lieutenant, who affirmed the decision that Karim would be barred from the courtroom unless her scarf was removed.

“I said, ‘No, I’m Muslim, and like I told (the first officer) I wear this for religious reasons and if you don’t allow me in the courtroom with my scarf on basically you are violating my civil rights and my right to a free religion because this is my religion,’” Karim said.

Karim said one of the officers told her that the denial of entry to the courtroom was due to “homeland security reasons” and that allowing her to enter would show “disrespect” to the judge, though Karim offered to walk through the metal detectors and allow the officers utilize the handheld metal detector to scan the scarf.

I doubt that the officers would ask a nun to remove her wimple for "homeland security reasons" before entering a courthouse, or claim that wearing one would show "disrespect" for the judge - but this woman, they would turn away.