The Supreme Court is now attempting  to balance Islamic  beliefs against bedrock elements of a fair trial.

At the centre of the case is a sexual assault complainant, known as N.S., who does not want to testify against the two men accused of raping her unless her face is obscured by a religious veil, or niqab.

The male defendants assert that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them the right  to confront their accuser and observe her facial nuances as she testifies.  He lawyers argue  that facial expressions are frequently misleading and that Islamic rape victims will be reluctant to go to police if they later may be ritually “stripped” in a courtroom.

An Ottawa law professor says that the notion that an individual’s facial expressions can determine his or her credibility is deeply entrenched in  popular belief and legal practice. However so long as someone sincerely believes that wearing a niqab is either required or promotes her faith, it is protected by the Charter.

Is the way sexual assault complainants are treated just as important as the conflict between freedom of religion and the right to  a fair trial?

Should a niqab be worn in court?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    This is a case of two conflicitng ideals, both guaranteed by the Charter: the right to face one’s accusers in court (legal) and the right to practise one’s religion of choice (religious).

    When two such ideals collide, the legal right must ALWAYS take precedence over the religious right. Otherwise, what was the polygamy case all about?

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Actually the polygamy case is being appealed to the Surpreme Court and we will only discover later which rights are paramount.

  3. 3

    No, Neil. Legal rights are always paramount. What is waiting to be decided is if the law will ever agree with the religion. If so, then fine. If not, then the law takes precedence over the religion. It always does.

  4. 4
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Should a niqab be worn in court?

    Yes, it should…in a court in Saudi Arabia.

    Here in Canada no witness should have the right to hide their face.

  5. 5
    Jim Says:

    Never mind the nuances on her kisser, what about if she hires some slick lawyer who can speak from both sides of her mouth, decks her out with a niqab, and who then testifies as if she is the victim, and then pours forth with a lot of double-speak drivel. Note – Canadian tradition has it that everyone relevant a case at hand must give their home address to the court for all to see, and for some of the “alls” to make a midnight visit to a testifier, with a baseball bat, and explains the facts of life.
    Note-Note – If they allow the niqab, then they must allow the hoods, the KKK high priests wear.

  6. 6

    The Niqab should not be worn in court or any legal presentation- Voting, getting a license, citizenship etc. any more than a ski mask would be allowed.
    The Niqab is not an article of religious clothing, but a preference by some. So is a ski mask.
    Why a person would insist on importing their prejudices and bigotry to a new country is beyond me! Once again, I am surprised by the basic misunderstanding of freedom.

  7. 7

    Thre is no absolute freedom of speech,no absolute freedom of movement,and no absolute freedom of religion,especially where it confronts the court system. As the expression has it,this is where the rubber meets the road.The issue is not what store opening hours are,or whether kids will be subjected to-horors!-religious symbols,but whether the courts can require a person to identify himslef. This is basic.

  8. 8

    I agree with that!

  9. 9

    Well said. I agree.

RSS Feed for this entry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: