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Judge demands woman remove burqa in court

Feb. 2, 2009 at 7:47 AM

TORONTO, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A Toronto lawyer is seeking to have a judge's order overturned that his Muslim client must testify in court without her full-face burqa, or veil.

David Butt is representing the unidentified woman who is a witness in a sexual assault trial, the Toronto Star said. On March 2, he will ask the province's Superior Court to overturn Justice Norris Weisman's Oct. 16 ruling.

There are some 580,000 Muslims in Canada, but the Star said there appears to be no legal precedent regarding their religious customs that call for women to cover their faces.

In his October judgment, Weisman wrote "at the 11th hour we learned ... she has a driver's license with her unveiled facial impression upon it," and the license "can be required to be produced by all sorts of males," such as police officers.

In response, Butt said the two men accused would be able to "hear her voice and inflection, see the expression in her eyes and body language," the Star said.

However, Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said in court "the laws of the country should be acceptable , and ... showing the face is acceptable."

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