Last Update 17:57
Monday, 18 November 2019

British minister says Islamic full-face veil should be banned in courts

A cabinet minister in Prime Minister David Cameron's government says 'it's almost impossible to have a proper trial if one of the persons is in a kind of bag'

Reuters, Sunday 3 Nov 2013
Views: 966
Views: 966

Muslim women should be banned from wearing a veil when giving evidence in British courts, a cabinet minister in Prime Minister David Cameron's government said on Sunday, arguing it was hard to judge someone's testimony otherwise.

In comments likely to stir up an already emotive debate, Ken Clarke, a minister without portfolio who used to work as a criminal barrister, likened traditional female Islamic dress to being "in a kind of bag", and said he found it "a most peculiar costume for people to adopt in the 21st century."

"I think we do need a clear rule. I don't think a witness should be allowed to give evidence from behind a veil," Clarke, a former interior minister, told BBC radio.

"I can't see how on earth a judge and a jury can really appraise evidence when you're facing someone who is cloaked and is completely invisible to you. It's almost impossible to have a proper trial if one of the persons is in a kind of bag."

A judge's ruling in September that a Muslim woman could not give evidence at her trial wearing a full-face veil sparked debate about whether Britain should follow other European countries and ban veils in schools and public places.

Judge Peter Murphy said at the time he hoped parliament or a higher court would provide a definitive verdict "sooner rather than later".

Britain has so far steered clear of following the examples of France and Belgium, where it is illegal for women to wear full-face veils in public.

Clarke, who said he had no objection to anyone wearing what they liked outside the courtroom provided it was "decent", said it was vital for jurors to be able to observe a person's body language and facial expression to make a decision on whether they were telling the truth.

Face-coverings were therefore an obstacle to justice, he said.

"I actually think it undermines a trial and that's not based on any trace of islamophobia."

Cameron's government is considering how to better integrate Britain's 2.7 million Muslims without restricting their right to freedom of religious expression.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

03-11-2013 10:17pm
shame on that woman
The strange thing is that he is right! Why is this even a story?? When a woman in a veil goes through security at an airport, she must show her face! The whole reason for this issue NOW in the UK is, a veiled woman was on trial for intimidating a witness... she was the criminal!!! Why should she try and hide her guilt in such a way? Such people gives our whole religion such a bad name in the world...
Comment's Title

© 2010 Ahram Online.