Denmark: Judges, lawyers against headscarf ban

Denmark: Judges, lawyers against headscarf ban

A proposed ban on judges wearing headscarves is viewed by most profession representatives as unnecessarily questioning a judge's abilities and impartiality

A government proposal to ban the wearing of headscarves by judges in the courtroom has received a flood of criticism from groups ranging from lawyers to human rights organisations - all of whom believe the law is an insult to Muslim judges.

A broad parliamentary majority supports the proposal, created in November in the wake of a heated national debate over whether women wearing the Muslim headscarf in the workplace were putting religion over duty.

Former parliament candidate Asmaa Abdol-Hamid started the headscarf furore in April 2007, saying she would continue to wear her headscarf on the job even if elected as an MP. The dispute was further taken up by the Danish Court Administration earlier this year, which ruled that judges should not be banned from wearing religious symbols.

A wave of professional groups have issued a statement that blasts the government's proposal as 'unnecessary' and 'unfortunate'. Among those signing the statement were the associations representing lawyers, judges, courts, and administrators, plus the Foundation for Due Process and the Institute for Human Rights.

'It's completely unnecessary to pass this law,' Jørgen Lougart, head of the Danish Judges Association, told Berlingske Tidende newspaper. 'It is precisely because judges are so well educated and schooled in law that it's taken for granted they live up to the codex of being and appearing impartial.'


Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

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