VALDOSTA ­ Five days after allegations of discrimination came out against the Valdosta Municipal Court after Judge Vernita Lee Bender denied access to a Muslim woman who was wearing a traditional head scarf, the city has yet to release an official statement.

“This is an unfortunate situation,” stated a brief press release from the city public information office. “We have been contacted by the appropriate parties and have been asked not to release a statement until further discussions can be completed. We are hopeful that an understanding will be reached that will be satisfactory to everyone involved.”

The Anti-Defamation League came out against the decision to deny access to the courtroom to Muslims wearing religious head scarves. . .

While trying to contest a speeding ticket, 20-year-old Aniisa Karim was informed that she could not enter the courtroom wearing her scarf, even after she explained that she wore the scarf for religious purposes.

Through the court clerk, Bender reportedly informed Karim that the denial of entry was due to “rules that everyone has to follow.”

Karim contacted a Washington-based civil liberties group, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In a letter addressed to Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, CAIR argued that denial of access to a public courtroom based on religious beliefs or practices was in violation of Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was an infringement on Karim’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free religion and equal protection under the law.


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