Moutia Elzahed, the burqa-clad second wife of Hamdi Alqudsi, who was sentenced for recruiting for the Islamic State in Syria (he helped young Australians travel to Syria to fight in that country’s civil war), appeared again in the Sydney, Australia, District Court on Wednesday, as part of a case that had to do with a 2014 raid by law enforcement. According to the website rightwingnews.com, Moutia Elzahed and her two teenage sons have brought a suit against the Commonwealth of Australia and New South Wales for assault and battery that allegedly happened during that 2014 counter-terrorism raid.
The big issue at the moment, however, isn’t so much the lawsuit, but what is happening in the courtroom during the trial. There are two issues, at the moment, that are causing some controversy between Moutia Elzahed and the court’s judge, Judge Audrey Balla.
- Ms. Elzahed doesn’t stand for the judge when she comes into the courtroom (Ms. Elzahed says she won’t stand for anyone except Allah).
- Ms. Elzahed’s refuses to remove her niqab, which covers every part of her body in black cloth except her eyes.
According to Judge Balla, neither of these behaviors are acceptable in her court—not for Muslims or people of any other faith.
As per a new rule, initiated this year by the NSW government, those who are found to be in contempt of the court face a penalty of up to 14 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $1000. And that’s for every single offense.
According to The Daily Telegraph, “NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton urged NSW Solicitor-General Michael Sexton SC on Thursday to determine whether Ms Elzahed should be charged for disrespectful behaviour in court. The charge carries a maximum penalty of $1,100 fine or 14 days prison time.”
The website abc.net.au explains, “These [respect laws] were brought in following several high-profile cases in NSW and Victoria, in which defendants refused to follow court conventions of standing as a judge enters the room and leaves the bench.”
According to Clive Evatt, Ms.Elzahed’s attorney, she is not trying to be defiant, and she doesn’t want to face charges.
Do you think that she should face charges for not standing, even though she says her religion prohibits her from doing so?