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Belgium: Decision looms in human rights complaint over Muslim’s courtroom headscarf ban

A Muslim, banned from a Belgian courtroom after refusing to remove her hijab headscarf, will find out tomorrow if judges accept that her human rights were violated.

The European Court of Human Rights is scheduled to publish its decision on Tuesday 18 Septemebr, n the complaint Lachiri v. Belgium (no. 3413/09).

The applicant, Hagar Lachiri, is a Belgian national who was born in 1986 and lives in Koekelberg (Belgium). The case concerns her exclusion from a courtroom on account of her refusal to remove her hijab.

Lachiri, and other members of her family, applied to join the proceedings as civil parties seeking damages in a crime case during which her brother had been killed. In 2007 the accused was committed to stand trial before the Criminal Court on charges of premeditated assault and wounding resulting in unintentional death.

Lachiri and the other civil parties appealed against that decision, submitting that the offence should be classified as murder and that the accused should be tried by an Assize Court.

On the day of the hearing before the Indictments Division, in accordance with a decision of the presiding judge the court usher informed Lachiri that she could not enter the hearing room unless she removed her headscarf.

#Lachiri refused to comply and did not attend the hearing.

Relying on Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Lachiri complains that her exclusion from the courtroom infringed her freedom to express her religion.

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