An Australian court judge denied accepting a Muslim woman in niqab from giving evidence. She is Moutia Elzahed, the wife of a convicted terrorist.
Elzahed appeared in court to prove her claim that police officers misbehaved and tried assaulting her as they went on a raid on her property in September 2014. New South Wales district court Judge Audrey Balla did not allow her to give evidence while in a niqab. The decision came on Tuesday following Elzahed’s request of allowing her to give evidence without unveiling her face.
The ruling is the first of its kind in Australia. Prior to this, there has been no case where a Muslim woman has not been allowed to appear and give evidence in court in niqab. The judge offered several alternatives for her to remain veiled from the public and to give evidence in a closed room but the woman dismissed all options and said that there would still be some male members in the legal room.
Elzahed’s claim described at Australian court
The court proceeding was about the abusive behavior of police officers as claimed by Elzahed and her two sons. They said they were treated brutally during the raid. Several court documents were presented during the hearings. It stated that the officers punched her in the ear, eye and head. It also stated that throughout the raid, she was “moved in a brutal manner, handcuffed in an aggressive and hurtful way, her ear bled, and she was mentally and physically abused.”
Elzahed’s counsel Clive Evatt defended the request made by his client and said that she was a Muslim by religion, and hence, was not allowed to reveal her face to men. On the other hand, The Guardian stated that the Australian court defense lawyers insisted that the woman was hiding something under the bedsheets and the officers were trying to find that out, which they “reasonably suspected” to be a weapon.
Elzahed is the wife of Hamdi Alqusi who was convicted in September 2016 for his involvement in aiding terrorism and recruiting Australians to fight in Syria.