Muslim juror asked to stand down for refusing to take off veil

 In a first of its kind ruling, a veiled Muslim woman was barred from serving on a jury in a London court by a judge who wanted her to remove the face cover as it concealed her expressions.

In an extraordinary ruling yesterday, the judge said she could not sit on an attempted murder trial because her full face covering, known as the niqab, concealed her expressions, a media report said today.

The woman was about to take the oath in the case at Blackfriars Crown Court in London when the judge interrupted to ask if she was prepared to remove the garment which covered her whole face, apart from a narrow slit through which her eyes could be seen.

Judge Aidan Marron, said it was "desirable" that her face was "exposed" during the trial and asked her to remove the veil.

When she refused, she was told to stand down and a male member of the jury pool was sworn in in her place, the Daily Mail reported.

In the presence of the rest of the jury, Judge Marron said, "I wonder whether I can address the lady who is veiled. Would you prefer not to remove your veil in this particular case?". The woman replied "Yes".

"I entirely understand that, but in this particular case it is desirable that your face is exposed, so I'm going to invite you to stand down. I hope you understand," the Judge added.

The ruling, which is thought to be one of the first of its kind in Britain, has sparked outrage.
"This is totally unacceptable. I really can't understand why facial expressions could have any impact on the judge, the judgement or anyone else in a trial. It has no relevance. I'm speechless that you can exclude someone on the basis of the way that they dress," Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said.

"It's very worrying that a judge is being prejudiced against women wearing a veil," he added.
Official guidelines state that veils can be worn in court although senior judges should decide on a case-by-case basis.

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