by David J. Rusin • Mar 5, 2010 at 10:39 am
Consider the phenomenon of exempting Muslims from the standard practice of rising before judges. In January, seven radicals on trial for shouting insults at British soldiers during a 2009 homecoming parade refused to stand when the judge entered — because, in the words of one of their lawyers, “it is a grave and cardinal sin to show respect in this way to anyone other than God himself.” The response from Judge Carolyn Mellanby? Appeasement and more appeasement:
Eventually, a compromise was reached where they would enter the court after her during the trial, which is expected to last six days. The maximum penalty each of the men can receive is a £1,000 fine.
The defendants were given an extra 20 minutes on top of their lunch break to go to pray at a mosque a few minutes’ walk away.
A separate “quiet” room has been set aside for their regular prayer intervals for the rest of the week.
Mellanby “said she did not wish to ‘set a precedent‘ by charging them with contempt of court.” Instead, it was the defendants themselves who apparently “set a precedent” here. Also of note: Five were convicted in the harassment case but went unpunished. Ordered to reimburse court costs only, the men gleefully declared that, as they are on welfare, taxpayers will foot the bill.
In the Netherlands, the bar association is leading the way to mollify Islamists. An appeals chamber of that organization recently overturned a reprimand of attorney Mohammed Enait, who had been censured because he does not rise for judges and dons an Islamic hat in court sessions. It ruled that he can remain seated and wear his head covering; as the article explains, the panel found that “his refusal to rise and his headgear are not meant to show contempt of court.” (Be sure to read the humorous passage about Enait and his “secretaries” at the above link.)
Other events demonstrate the growing deference to Islam in Europe’s courtrooms: A woman made history last summer by becoming the first in Denmark to testify while wearing a niqab. Earlier this year, Judge Cherie Blair, wife of Tony, drew fire for her leniency toward a British Muslim convicted of assault, to whom she said, “You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behavior.” Finally, foot-washing basins have been installed in a German courthouse so Muslims can clean themselves before prayer; a spokesman justified the facility by “saying that in the past toilets have been stopped up with toilet paper and used for feet washing.”
How drenching one’s feet with toilet water advances cleanliness is unclear. Equally difficult to grasp is how Europe’s legal establishment could think that this spate of accommodations will inspire anything but more and more outrageous demands from Islamists.