Judge at Australian Court Orders Muslim Woman to Remove Her Veil During Testomony

An Australian Muslim woman who sought permission to keep her face and head covered while she gives evidence at an upcoming trial was told by a judge Thursday she would have to remove her veil.

The case is the first time in Australia that a court has had to consider whether a witness should be allowed to keep their face hidden behind the type of veils some Muslim women wear as a mark of modesty. The case has drawn considerable interest nationally, drawing comparisons to France and Belgium, where efforts have been made to ban the wearing of Islamic face veils, The Associated Press says.

Last month, France banned face-covering veils in public places. Lawmakers in the Australian state of New South Wales rejected a similar bid by a Christian party in May.

Muslims make up about 1.7 percent of Australia's predominantly Christian population of 22 million, and religious tensions have run high in recent years including race riots at a Sydney beach in December 2005, AFP informs.

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