Has sharia accommodation in England reduced the Magna Carta to a dead letter? The question presses thanks to the ruling of a Crown Court in London that permits a Muslim woman under indictment for witness intimidation to wear a niqab – a veil which makes only her eyes visible to observers – during her trial.
The ruling is a compromise. The defendant will be shielded from public and media view; her face will be observable, however, to the trial jury, as well as the judge and lawyers in the case.
As Robin Shepherd of thecommentator.com contends, this resolution disserves the bedrock principle of equal protection under the law. All other citizens will be forced to endure the public examination attendant to being accused of crime – only Muslim women are given this safe-harbor. Shepherd roots his argument in Western tradition. On that account, he might have added that the niqab itself is a powerful statement of the anti-equality principles that undergird sharia, providing another reason why Western legal systems should resist its principles.