While being arrested for wearing an illegal face-covering, a woman headbutted a female police officer, causing her injury. However, as soon as the presiding judge heard what the suspect did, they were determined to make an example out of her.
As Europe’s Muslim population swells, many countries have taken drastic measures to prevent the rise of Sharia law. Unfortunately, this cultural clash has led to the Islamic population resisting certain laws in favor of their own religious precepts.
In an effort to curb potential extremism, the niqab has been banned throughout various European countries, forcing the Muslim minority to choose between obeying the nation’s laws or their own theological compulsions. Of course, many who’ve chosen faith over fiat are experiencing the consequences firsthand.
When 27-year-old Stephanie Djato wore her niqab — the Islamic face veil — to a bus stop in Brussels, she knew she was breaking the law. In accordance with Belgian regulations, a female police officer warned her to remove the covering or be arrested, Breitbart reports.
Djato refused to comply with the officer’s demand. However, she wasn’t about to peacefully submit. Instead of allowing the responding officers to take her in for processing, Djato headbutted one of them and used physical resistance to avoid being arrested. Even after she had been brought to the police station, she continued to put up a fight, finally injuring two female officers.
When the court heard of Djato’s behavior, they found her completely responsible for the incident and the subsequent injuries. After she was convicted of assaulting a police officer, the judge made sure that Djato’s sentence would serve as an example to any other veil-wearing woman.
Stephanie Djato received no leniency from the court.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, in a case that would’ve resulted only in Djato getting a slap on the wrist and minimal fine for wearing the niqab, the court instead sentenced her to 18 months in prison and required her to pay compensation to the officers she attacked. On top of her prison sentence, Djato will still be required to pay $1,000 for covering her face in public.
The court admitted that if Stephanie Djato had complied with the officer, she might have only received a fine. However, since she became belligerent and violent, she will suffer to the fullest extent of the law.
Unfortunately, Djato has only made things worse for herself. Despite receiving a guilty verdict, she refused to show up to her trial, leaving her in contempt of court. Since she decided not to participate in the legal process, the judge ordered her immediate arrest following her conviction. She was likely surprised when police arrived to take her directly to prison for booking.
A few years ago, Belgium banned all “attire and clothing masking the face in such a way that it impairs them to be recognizable.” Although the law makes no direct reference to the niqab, critics believe it was passed to target the Islamic clothing. The penalty for breaking the new policy is a mere fine, although Djato’s sentence was much harsher.
Whether you agree with banning the niqab or not, there is a fine line between religious freedom and public safety. Where that line begins and the other ends are difficult to say. However, we can say without an ounce of doubt that there is no excuse for assaulting a police officer simply because you disagree with the law they’re enforcing.