MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Somali-American woman was arrested at the start of her trial in Minneapolis Monday because she would not stand, citing religious reasons, when the judge entered the courtroom.
Chief Judge Michael Davis ordered 35-year-old Amina Farah Ali jailed for the course of her terrorism trial after she was found to be in contempt of court.
Ali and her co-defendant, Hawo Mohamed Hassan, are accused of funneling money to a terrorist organization. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The women were arrested in August of last year, and Monday was the first day of jury selection in their trial. The jury selection is expected to continue Tuesday, and Ali will likely refuse to stand when the judge and jurors enter the court. Farah Ali said she only stands for Allah.
Other Muslims in the courtroom including, Hassan, did stand Monday.
Omar Jamal, the secretary to the Somali Mission to the United Nations, said that standing for a judge does not violate the Muslim religion. He also said that Ali’s refusal to follow court customs will likely harm her case.
“It’s not helpful to her case in the long run by pissing off the judge and creating all this issue,” Jamal said.
Davis ordered Ali jailed and said when the trial starts she will not be allowed in the courtroom. Instead, she will have to monitor the case from another room on closed-circuit television.
David Schultz, a professor who teaches law at the University of Minnesota, said that Ali’s behavior is unusual.
“Most of the time, defendants in criminal trials are counseled by their attorneys to be very deferential to the judge,” he said.
Ali’s attorney objected to her arrest and indicated they could appeal,.
Ali is charged with sending $8,600 to the Somali terror group Al-Shabab. She and Hassain are both charged with conspiracy; and Hassan is charged with three counts of lying to the FBI.