Tacoma Judge Aplogizes for Ejecting Muslim Woman From Court


Posted Feb 1, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Tacoma incident prompts change of policy to accommodate religious attire

(SEATTLE, WA, 2/1/2006) - The Seattle, Wash., office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Seattle) today thanked a Tacoma judge who offered an apology to a Muslim woman who was ejected from court for refusing to remove her religiously-mandated headscarf.

CAIR-Seattle also applauded a new policy being formulated to allowing religious exemptions to rules prohibiting head coverings in that state’s courtrooms.

The Washington, D.C., based group had intervened on behalf of the woman who was ordered to leave the courtroom of Tacoma Municipal Court Judge David B. Ladenburg on January 25. That incident prompted the decision to alter the head covering policy to allow both religious and medical exemptions.

SEE: Judges Revise No-Hat Rule (News Tribune)

In a letter to CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, Judge Ladenburg wrote:

“I offer my sincerest apology for any discomfort, embarrassment or humiliation she may have felt as a result of my request. My request was a result of sincere and earnest desire to maintain a policy that would be fair to all individuals. There was never intent to discriminate based on religious preference. I will be glad to offer my apology personally should she so desire.”

In letters to Judge Ladenburg and Presiding Municipal Court Judge Jack Emery, CAIR contended that Ladenburg’s actions were a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the First and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law and Washington’s “Law Against Discrimination” (RCW 49.60.030).

“We thank all those involved in this incident for their quick and decisive actions in defense of tolerance and religious diversity,” said CAIR-Seattle President Rami Al-Kabra. “The new policy will be of benefit not only to Muslims, but to Sikh men wearing turbans, orthodox Jewish men and women wearing yarmulkes or head scarves, Christian women wearing religious head coverings, and people of all other faiths who wear religiously-mandated attire.”

CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.