JANUARY 18, 2007
A North Carolina appeals court has reversed a trial judge’s decision to dismiss a Muslim woman’s lawsuit demanding the Quran be used for courtroom oaths. The woman, Syidah Mateen, initially filed the lawsuit in 2005 because she was denied placing her hand on the Quran as a witness in a trial.
State law allows witnesses preparing to testify in court to take their oath by laying a hand on the Holy Bible, by saying “so help me God” without the use of a religious book or with an affirmation using no religious symbols. The options led a trial judge to dismiss the suit, determining that there was no actual controversy warranting litigation since the woman was not forced to use the Bible.
But this week, a three-judge appellate court panel unanimously reversed that decision, allowing the lawsuit to continue. The judges wrote that the complaint was sufficient to entitle litigation and the state must now waste taxpayer dollars to defend the case. A Muslim center in Greensboro is also involved because its offer to donate copies of the Quran to Guilford County’s two courthouses was declined by judges who said an oath on the Quran is not a legal oath under state law.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), well-known for its support of terrorism worldwide, also joined the case by demanding a statewide policy permitting use of the Quran and other religious texts in courtrooms. Additionally, a group of North Carolina religious leaders sent a letter to one of the county judges who said an oath on the Quran was not lawful. It said, in part, that North Carolina is no longer a Bible Belt state but rather a “Bible-Talmud-Quran, Veda-Dhammapada-Guru Granth Sahib-Kitabiiqan Belt state.”
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