A judge has refused to hear evidence from a Muslim woman who is suing police over a terrorism raid on her house because she would not remove her veil.
In what is believed to be an Australian first in a civil case, The Daily Mail reports today that NSW District Court judge Audrey Balla would not let Moutia Elzahed take the stand unless she took off her veil. But Ms Elzahed, who is one of two women married to Islamic extremist Hamdi Alqudsi, refused, saying it was against her religion to show her face to any man who was not a relative.
Ms Elzahed is suing the commonwealth and NSW for assault in relation to a counter-terrorism raid on her home.
Her lawyer Clive Evatt said, for religious reasons, his client could not reveal her face to any man. The Daily Mail reported Judge Balla gave Ms Elzahed a choice; she could have the court closed while she gave evidence or she could give evidence via video link.
But Mr Evatt declined both options on his client’s behalf because the mostly male lawyers on both sides would still be in court and would see her face.
Dressed in long robes, scarf and veil, Ms Elzahed also refused to stand for Judge Balla when she entered and left the court.
Ms Elzahed’s refusal to take off the veil is a blow to her case, which relied on her sworn testimony that she was punched by police during the dawn raid.
Ms Elzahed is seeking financial compensation for “assault and battery, wrongful arrest and false imprisonment and intimidation”.
She is joined in the lawsuit by her husband Hamdi Alqudsi and sons Hamza George, 17, and Abdulla George, 17.
Since the raid Alqudsi has been convicted of helping seven men travel to Syria to fight with Islamist rebels.
He is serving a sentence of eight years with a non-parole period of six years.
Outside of court Ms Elzahed told The Daily Mail that “it is not fair” that she could not give evidence.
Moutia Elzahed charged with nine counts of “disrespectful behaviour in court.” Refusing to stand for a judge due to her Islamic faith. pic.twitter.com/NW1rbEanv8
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) May 8, 2017