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Lawyer for Sept. 11 Defendant Says She Wore Hijab at Arraignment Out of Respect for Client

Posted May 7, 2012 7:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Corrected: A defense lawyer for one of five Sept. 11 suspects is defending her decision to wear a hijab during the arraignment before a military tribunal on Saturday.

During the proceeding, lawyer Cheryl Bormann was “sporting a black burqa” while one of the female prosecutors “sent a silent message to the defendants with her red, white and blue high heels,” the New York Daily News reports. The New York Post deemed Bormann’s attire “a pandering fashion choice.”

The Daily News describes an arraignment on Saturday lasting “13 bizarre hours.” The defendants generally refused to acknowledge or listen to the judge, the New York Times reports. Several interrupted the proceedings by praying, and one shouted that prison guards might kill them. One lawyer, James Connell III, later said at a news conference on Sunday that the defendants’ behavior was a “peaceful resistance to an unjust system,” according to the Times and the Miami Herald.

During the hearing, Bormann complained to the judge about courtroom attire of another female lawyer, according to the Daily News. “I’m not suggesting everyone in the room wear what I’m wearing,” she said, but the defendants fear “committing a sin under their faith” by looking at female flesh.

At the press conference, Bormann defended her courtroom attire, according to the Times and the New York Post. “I dress that way when I meet with my client at all times. It’s out of respect for his cultural and religious beliefs,” she said.

Updated on May 7 to correct spelling of "hijab."

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