“Spiritual influence”, niqabs, burqas, Islamic marriage, breakaway churches and LEGO bricks – the odds and ends of a fairly eventful week…
Undue “spiritual influence”
In February we noted that the elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, had been accused before an Election Court inquiring into his re-election of securing his victory, inter alia, by bringing undue “spiritual influence” to bear on Muslim electors. On Thursday, in what was by far the biggest religion story of the week, he was found guilty, deposed from office, barred from standing in the new election and ordered to pay £250,000 costs. Next week we will publish a further analysis of the current position on “spiritual influence” as clarified by the Election Commissioner, Richard Mawrey QC.
Lord Neuberger and niqabs
The recent speech to the Criminal Justice Alliance by the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, Fairness in the courts: the best we can do, caused considerable media reaction – see, for example, the Telegraph, the Mail and the Guardian – which may have led some readers to draw the erroneous conclusion that the PSC had said that Muslim women should be allowed to wear niqabs while giving evidence.
In fact, that is not what he said; and on 18 April the Supreme Court issued a clarificatory press release as follows: