ADL Criticizes Valdosta, GA Court for Refusing to Admit Muslim Woman Wearing Head Scarf
Atlanta, GA, July 2, 3007…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today criticized officials in the Valdosta, Georgia, municipal court for denying a Muslim woman entrance to the courtroom because she refused to remove her head scarf. 20-year-old Aniisa Karim had come to court to challenge a speeding ticket, but was denied entry on the basis of security concerns, security guards told her.
“We strongly object to the court’s refusal to allow Ms. Karim’s right to keep her head covered as part of her religious practices,” said Bill Nigut, ADL Southeast Regional Director. “There are a number of religions which call on people of faith to cover their heads out of respect for God. If this happened to a Jewish man coming to court in a yarmulke, ADL would be equally offended by the court’s refusal to follow U.S. and Georgia Constitutional guarantees of the right of religious freedom.”
In a statement issued by the clerk of the court, Judge Vernita Lee Bender apologized for the denial of entry, but said that “we have rules that everyone has to follow.”
“While we appreciate concerns about security, the court cannot simply shrug off religious liberty and the equal protection clause of the Constitution, which are among the most precious gifts of our democracy,” Mr. Nigut said.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.