Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

May 26, 2009 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-05-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Veiled discrimination




Unsigned editorials reflect theofficial position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely
the views of their authors.
Armed and dangerous
Texas bill to allow guns on campuses is unnecessarily extreme
exas has a reputation for being home to some gun-slinging cOw-
boys. But a bill recently passed by the Texas State Senate may turn
Texas college students into gunslingers, too. The bill would allow
concealed firearms on all public properties - including college campuses.
But the Texas House of Representatives, which has not yet considered
the bill, must realize its dangerous implications. The bill fails to recog-
nize that colleges and universities are places of learning that should foster
an environment of enlightenment, not fear. The Texas House must defeat
this bill or risk encouraging a dangerous trend that disturbs college cam-
puses and infringes on universities' autonomy.

Religious discrimination in the
courtroom is very dishearten-
ing to many people of faith. One
recent example here in Michi-
gan is that of Ginnah Muham-
mad, a Muslim woman whose
small claims court case in near-
by Hamtramck was dismissed
because she refused to remove her
veil while testifying. The judge's
refusal to hear Muhammad's case
violated her freedom of religion
and demonstrated the discrimi-
nation Muslims frequently face in
the courtroom - a discrimination
that needs to end.
Muhammad wears the niqab -
aveilthat covers her face fromthe
nose down - in daily life as part of
her religious practice. The judge
presiding over the suit, District
Judge Paul Paruk, stated that he
needed to see Muhammad's face
while she was testifying to be able
to see whether she was telling the
truth. When she refused, Paruk
dismissed her case.
In response to the dismissal,
Muhammad sued Paruk in fed-
eral court, alleging a violation of
her First Amendment right to free
exercise of religion. The federal
court dismissed the case, stating
that the state courts should han-
dle the issue. Based on this rul-
ing, Michigan's Supreme Court
proposed allowing state judges
leeway on the issue of dress in the
courtroom.Ithas delayed avote on
the change until its next adminis-
trative conference on June 17.
In two past United States
Supreme Court case decisions,
Sherbert v. Verner and Wisconsin
v. Yoder, the court decided that
there mustbe a"compellinginter-
est" to override people's right to
practice their religion. In the first
case, the Supreme Court held that
there was no compelling state
interest that justified the with-
holding of unemployment com-
pensation to a woman who was
fired from her job for refusing
to work on Saturday on religious
grounds. In the latter case, Amish
parents refused to send their chil-
dren to public school after the age
of 16. The Supreme Court unani-
mously held that the free exercise
of religion outweighed the state's
interest in compelling school
( Your University-sponsored
trip to Mexico, which the
University recently ended
restrictions prohibiting.
Getting swine flu on your
University-sponsored trip
to Mexico.

Muhammad's case is no dif-
ferent. There wasn't a compel-
ling state interest in Muhammad
taking off her veil. Paruk did
not even show consideration to
other options that would be less
burdensome, such as permitting
Muhammad to appear before a
female judge, for whom she would
be able to remove her veil.
Paruk blew this case complete-
ly out of proportion. One would
assume that the most important
factor in a case is the testimony
given and the facts presented, not
the demeanor of a testifier's face.
This kind of evidence is subjec-
tive, and Paruk probably could
not have determined Muham-
mad's honesty just by seeing her
face. Besides, Muhammad's eyes
- usually considered the most
expressive part of the face - were
already showing. The benefit that
Paruk could have gotten from
judging the demeanor of Muham-
mad's mouth and nose could not
have been enough of a compelling
state interestto justify overriding
her right to free religious exer-
On a more dismaying note,
Paruk seemed dismissive of
Muhammad's religious beliefs
as a Muslim, informing her that
her decision to not remove the
veil wasn't a "religious thing"
but a "cultural thing." For Paruk
to downplay her religious beliefs
and amount them to a simple cul-
tural choice is an insult to Muslim
women everywhere who choose
to wear the nigab as part of their
Islamic religion.
This is one of many instances
in which Muslims have faced
religious discrimination. The
appearance of Muslims in reli-
gious clothing has been used to
push the idea that Muslims aren't
real Americans. Steps need to be
taken to ensure equal treatment
of people of all religions, espe-
cially in the courtroom. Religious
discrimination does exist, but the
courts should be a place where
this discrimination is ended,rnot
Aalaa Albaroudi
is an LSA senior.
The Daily is accepting submissions
for viewpoints on a topic of the
writer's choice. These submissions
should reflect a personal interest.
Viewpoints are 500-650 words long.
They are edited for length, clarity,
grammar, and factual accuracy.
All submissions become property of
The Michigan Daily.
For more information, e-mail Rachel
Van Gilder at rachelvg@umich.edu.

The Texas Senate passed the
bill on Wednesday by a vote of
19-12. The proposed law would
allow concealed handguns on all
public property, even elementary
and high schools. Private insti-
tutions would be exempt. The
bill does not change laws that
restrict concealed carry permits
to those over 21 who have passed
criminal background checks and
other training requirements.
Half of the members of the
House of Representatives have
already committed to support-
ing the bill. If it passes, Texas
will join West Virginia, Colora-
do and Utah in allowing guns on
public university campuses. But
unlike these states, the Texas
law will not let individual uni-
versities decide whether or not
to allow guns on campus.
This bill challenges univer-
sities' educational autonomy,
which is essentialto maintaining
institutions of higher learning.

Under the bill, public universi-
ties in Texas - even those that
currently prohibit firearms on
campus - would be forced to
allow concealed weapons. Each
campus is different, and each
university should have the abil-
ity to determine what is best for
its students. For the state to con-
tradict its universities' decisions
regarding the safety of their stu-
dents is naive and irresponsibly
The fear of being undefended
in the event of a school shooting
may have led more colleges and
states to consider allowing guns
on campus. But allowing guns on
campuses isn'tthe way to assuage
this fear. Guns are an unneces-
sarily dangerous solution and
better alternatives to keep stu-
dents safe exist. Instead of arm-
ingstudents and deputizing them
to participate in a Wild West-
style shootout, it's important for
universities to focus on prevent-

ing these attacks from happen-
ing in the first place. Improving
access to mental health care for
students is one way of doing this.
States, meanwhile, should main-
tain sensible restrictions and
proper screening procedures to
obtain a concealed carry weapon
permit, ensuring that those who
should not have access to a fire-
arm ever get it.
Improved response plans
can also eliminate the per-
ceived need for firearms. Proper
lockdown procedures and an
informed faculty and staff can
make a big difference in ensur-
ing that campuses are safe, and
so can emergency alert proce-
dures like text-messaging and
e-mail alert systems.
The Texas House must defeat
this bill and focus its attention on
making campuses safer. There is
no question that students must
be protected, but adding more
guns is not the answer.

Editorial Board Members: Emad Ansari, Ben Caleca, Erika Mayer, Asa Smith, Patrick Zabawa
Tell us what you think. Send letters to tothednily@umich.edu or visit michigandsily.com and click on 'Letter to the editor.'

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan