CAIR: DIVERSE GROUPS REVIEW VALDOSTA'S COURT BAN
Valdosta has examined a rule that prevents people from wearing headgear in courtrooms Wednesday, but has not decided how to update it.
City and court officials met Wednesday with representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers, or GAML, to discuss policies regarding the wearing of Islamic head scarves, or hijab, in courtrooms.
The meeting was prompted by a June incident in which a Muslim woman seeking to contest a speeding ticket was barred from a Valdosta courtroom when she refused to remove an Islamic head scarf.
Court officials cited homeland security reasons for denying entry to Aniisa Karim, 20, of Valdosta. CAIR and GAML asserted that Karim's rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law had been violated.
CAIR representatives termed Wednesday's meeting productive, but said more discussions are needed.
"We agreed that everyone should have the right to enter a public facility and should not be treated differently because of their religion," said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of CAIR's Tampa office, who participated in the meeting.
But, he said, participants were hung up on the actual policy and how courtroom security checks could be implemented for everyone equally. More talks will be held later this week or next week, he said.
Valdosta explained its policy and discussed in detail its interpretation and administration, the city said in a prepared release. The city called the meeting "professional and cordial."