A brawl between female soldiers and Muslim inmates has led to a standstill at the lockups in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
A judge banned female guards from shackling and escorting the five Muslim men being tried for the September 11 attacks. The soldiers have in turn filed complaints against the judge with regards to Equal Opportunity.
Walter Ruiz, the lawyer of one of the detainees explains that in the past six years only male guards had escorted and shackled his client. Since last fall, female guards have become part of the team. His client refuses to vacate his cell in the company of female guards because a Muslim man can only touch a woman he's related to.
"It means that we are not able to meet, we are not able to speak with each other on legal issues, and therefore I'm not able to provide the legal services that I am required to provide and the advocacy that I'm required to provide on his behalf," Ruiz says. "It's an access to counsel issue."
The judge presiding in the trial has refused to lift the restraining order barring female officers from escorting the September 11 attacks detainees.
The decision of the judge has received criticism by New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. "When the 9-11 attackers don't want women guarding them, it's absurd, and I don't think we should be accommodating that," she said.
Directed towards the matter by Ayotte, the head of the US Southern Command, who's in charge of Guantanamo, Gen John Kelly suggested that the judge had been misled.
David Nevin, who represents another September 11 attacks detainee, explains it is a matter of showing respect for well-established belief in Islam.
"There's a problem, a religious problem, protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, with having women touch men," Nevin says. "It's just something that's not done."
"So while it is, you know, completely desirable and understandable for women to have a greater role in the military, there's no explanation for why it absolutely has to be applied in this way, in this place, and that's the problem," he adds.
The US Southern Command has investigated the Equal Opportunity complaints filed there by unidentified National Guard members, some of which are file by women. No conclusion have yet been revealed.
The article was originally published on NPR
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ