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Judge bans veiled lawyers in courtrooms

A senior judge of Pakistan has ordered woman lawyers not to wear veils in courtrooms, the newspaper Daily Times reported Saturday//.

"You are professionals and should be dressed as required of lawyers," Chief Justice Tariq Pervaiz Khan of the Peshawar High Court told veiled lawyer Raees Anjum, ordering the ban on veils.

"We (the judges) cannot identify veiled woman lawyers and suspect that veiled lawyers appear to seek adjournment of proceedings in other lawyers' cases," said the chief justice, who added that he could barely hear the pleas by lawyer Anjum made from behind her veil.

She later told the newspaper: "I was embarrassed when the chief justice asked me not to wear veil in courtrooms. I feel more confident in my hijab (veil)."

Anjum, who described herself as "a progressive Muslim and working in this conservative society". "Hijab reflects a woman's modesty," she added.

Anjum said several female judges in the conservative North-West Frontier Province, where the Peshawar High Court administers justice, hold their courts in the veil. And woman legislators of the Islamic alliance that rules the province wear the veil without exception, she pointed out.

She told the Daily Times that the judiciary in the province held differing views on the issue.

A trend towards adopting Islamic symbolism has been in evidence in Pakistan since the US-backed military efforts to drive out the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the 1980s.


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