The female attorney of one of the 9/11 trial defendants is calling for all women in the courtroom to wear “appropriate” clothing during proceedings out of respect for her client’s religious beliefs, Fox News reported.
Civilian defense attorney Cheryl Bormann wore a full hijab during Saturday’s arraignment hearing for self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his four co-defendants, and asked the court to order other women to do the same.
She said the defendants’ Muslim beliefs cause them to have to avert their eyes “for fear of committing a sin under their faith” when they see a woman who is not covered up.
The judge ignored her request, the Guardian reported, but Bormann kept up the call Sunday.
“When you’re on trial for your life, you need to be focused,” she said, according to Fox.
Speaking at a press conference from Guantanamo Bay, Bormann, who is not Muslim, said she wears a hijab at “all times” when she meets with her client, Walid bin Attash.
Bin Attash has told investigators he helped select and train many of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks and said he was involved in the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole. He was brought into the courtroom Saturday strapped into a restraining chair and was only released after he promised not to disrupt the proceedings.
Bormann said the issue of female attire came up several years ago when a paralegal wore “very short skirts” and became a distraction for the defendants. She also said that on Saturday “somebody” was dressed “in a way that was not in keeping with my client’s religious beliefs.”
The Guardian reported some women in court were wearing skirts.
“If because of someone’s religious beliefs, they can’t focus when somebody in the courtroom is dressed in a particular way, I feel it is incumbent upon myself as a counsel to point that out and ask for some consideration from the prosecution,” Bormann said. “Suffice to say it was distracting to members of the accused.”