Muslim attacked over burqa, lawyer says

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But police have played down the severity of the attack.


In the District Court on Friday, the defence lawyer for Anwar Sayed said his client had that morning been “brutally stabbed to the chest and face, his car having been stopped”.

But a police spokesman said police were investigating reports of an assault in Leeming in Perth’s south involving two motorists, with one forcing the other to stop, then an assault taking place.

“There was no weapon and no serious injuries,” Samuel Dinnison said.

He said the person assaulted was taken to Fremantle Hospital after complaining of chest pains, and he had a scratch on his chest.

Sayed was reported to be in a stable position.

His lawyer Mark Trowell told the court on Friday that after Sayed was attacked he had made his way to his solicitor’s office from where he was taken to hospital by ambulance.

On Thursday, Mr Trowell said in court Sayed had received death threats via phone calls and handwritten notes over the burqa issue.

The concerns were raised during legal argument about whether a prosecution witness could wear her full burqa while giving evidence.

Mr Trowell had questioned how the jury could be expected to read the woman’s facial expressions if they could not see her face.

Outside court on Friday, another defence lawyer, Andrew Skerritt, said the defence team were concerned about Sayed’s health after the attack had left him “bleeding on the floor of his solicitor’s office”.

He said that in the public debate over the burqa issue, people had misconstrued Sayed’s position.

“Some people have misunderstood what’s happening, they think that he’s somehow objecting to people wearing the burqa and that’s not his position at all.”

Friday’s hearing was to establish a date for a retrial after the first jury in the case was discharged after the estimated time for the trial blew out from 10 days to five weeks.

That caused attendance problems for five jurors.

During submissions to determine a new trial date, Mr Trowell said “the only question is whether the accused will be alive”.

Sayed is accused of fraudulently obtaining up to $752,000 in state and federal grants by falsifying roll numbers for the Muslim Ladies College of Australia in Kenwick, south of Perth, in 2006.

On Thursday, Judge Shauna Deane said that on August 19 she would deliver her decision on the wearing of the burqa in the case once she had given the matter the “thoroughness it deserves”.

Tasneem, 36, who does not wish her surname to be published, has worn the burqa since the age of 17 and wants to wear it while giving evidence for the prosecution.

The court on Friday set a date for a five-week trial to start on October 4.