Tag Archives: judges

Headscarf Wars In Denmark

Perhaps, since the sixties when adults became furious at long hair worn by young boys and girls leading even judges to force haircuts for those up for trial has there been such controversy as to what happens on the head of people. Denmark has banned its judges from wearing a headscarf in a courtroom on grounds it is necessary to ensure the accused peace of mind the judge is impartial and will not use an individual’s religion in rendering decisions. Brian Mikkelsen, Minister of Justice, argued: “we’re addressing the rise of religious fundamentalism in the public domain.” So, what is the relation between religious fundamentalism and a judge wearing a headscarf?

The law has been criticized by a host of lawyers and judges who believe it insults every judge by assuming the individual’s religious beliefs would enter into making judicial decisions. The entire issue arose because a single Muslim woman said if she became a judge she would wear the headscarf. Certainly, before making such rash decisions it might be advisable to wait until at least one defendant raises a complaint?

Constitutional Crisis In Pakistan

Turmoil in Pakistan continued as a three judge court appointed under the administration of President Musharaff denied former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the right to run for parliament in an upcoming by-election. Nawaz, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N, had returned to Pakistan along with Benazir Bhutto with the understanding past misdeeds would be forgotten and he could participate in politics. The court ruling was based on a prior conviction before the coup led by President Musharraf. AS Nasim Zahra of Harvard noted, “The ruling will undermine, in a major way, the effort for national reconciliation.”

Nawaz Sharif has been allied with Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the slain Benazir Bhutto, in a combined effort to restore parliamentary government to Pakistan. They both agree that judges who were discharged by President Musharraf would be restored to office, and those who replaced them would be discharged. However, Zardari has proceeded at a slower pace since he wants to deal with the entire court issue as part of a package dealing with constitutional reform. This latest example of Musharraf judges interfering with political life will runs the risk of ending the coalition and creating more turmoil.

Pakistan Political Parties Deadlocked Over Judge Issue

Pakistani leaders meeting in London in an effort to resolve the conflict regarding the positon of judges fired by President Musharraf have yet to come to an agreement on how to handle the situation. Musharraf sacked judges last fall who opposed him including the head of the Pakistan Supreme Court. Asif Ali Zardari, widow of the slain Benazir Bhutto, is willing to allow the issue to dominate the current situation confronting his nation but Nawaz Sharif, who heads a key political party in the governing coalition, has made return of the judges a key issue. His goal is removal of Musharraf from the presidency and he believes restoring the judges to power will asisst in gaining that goal.

Zardari is no great supporter of Musharraf was wants to avoid a constitutional crisis that might result if the judges are returned to their former positions and attempts are made by Nawaz Sharif to use the power of the judiciiary to remove the president. At this point, Zardari is willing to allow judges appointed by Musharraf to replace those fired to be allowed to continue in office.

As many Democrats today urge Senator Clinton to step down, so do many Pakistanis urge Musharraf to step down and allow their nation to escape a constituional crisis. We suspect neither will walk away from power.