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Judge decides Muslim cap is religious

MCDONOUGH, Ga., May 10 (UPI) -- A Georgia judge who kept a Muslim man out of a courtroom three times for insisting on wearing a cap as a religious sign of humility has changed his mind.

Henry County Judge James Chafin said in an order that he discovered by doing his own research that Troy "Tariq" Montgomery has valid reasons to wear the kufi, a tight-fitting cap similar to the Jewish yarmulke, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday. Montgomery is trying to challenge a speeding ticket and has a new court date next week.

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"The court finds through its own research that there is a basis in the Koran for both men and women to cover their heads as a religious observance," Chafin wrote. "Accordingly, the court will permit the defendant to wear his hat in the courtroom as a valid religious observance."

Georgia adopted a policy in 2009 of allowing religious headgear to be worn in government buildings after a Muslim woman was arrested for refusing to remove her hijab or headscarf in a courtroom. Chafin had demanded Montgomery or his lawyer show proof the kufi is a religious item.

Montgomery, 46, said in a statement issued by his attorney he hopes no one else has to defend wearing Islamic attire in court.

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"I also want to make it clear that I do not just wear a 'hat' as the judge referred to in his order, but a kufi, which is a religious head covering worn for the purpose of identifying my religious affiliation," he said.

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