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Appeal Court Confirms Rights Of Muslim Rbdf Officer Who Refused To Join Christian Prayer Service Were Violated

THE Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling by Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett which found that the Royal Bahamas Defence Force violated the constitutional rights of a Muslim officer who refused to participate in a Christian prayer service.

The Court of Appeal upheld the ruling by a vote of two to one.

The former officer, Gregory Laramore, converted to the nation of Islam nearly two decades ago. He filed a civil suit against the RBDF for breaching his freedom of religion when he was disciplined for stepping out of morning and evening colours parades during a Christian prayer. The event in question took place on April 25, 2007 when Mr Laramore was a petty officer. He said he was dismissed from the force later that year.

In April 2013, Sir Michael awarded the officer $10,000 in damages for a breach of his rights.

“The plaintiff was required to suffer indignity and costs of disciplinary proceedings for standing up for his constitutional rights,” the chief justice said in his 2013 ruling.

“He is, in my judgment, entitled to an award of damages to compensate him for that infringement. I award him the sum of $10,000 as damages for the breach of his constitutional rights.”

In a written judgment posted on the Court of Appeal’s website yesterday, Justice Abdullah Conteh and Justice Stanley John both upheld Sir Michael’s judgment.

“I am convinced and satisfied that the judgment of the learned chief justice, including the award to the respondent, is otherwise eminently sustainable and in accordance with the evidence in the case and the Constitution of the Bahamas,” Justice Conteh said.

“The appeal is accordingly dismissed with the costs awarded to the respondent to be taxed, if not agreed.”

However, in her written judgment, the appellate court’s President Justice Anita Allen said she could not come to the same conclusion.

“I am of the view that the decision does not interpret the Constitution as it stands but rather follows a line of authority not based on Constitutions similarly structured,” she noted.

She added: “It is not denied that the respondent sincerely held the Muslim belief and that he did so from 1993 to at least until he retired in 2007. Moreover, morning and evening colours were held twice a week and that portion of the parades which included prayer, was of minimal duration.

“It seems to me that while standing in formation, the respondent had the opportunity to pray to his God and (maintain) his religion and in between Colour parades, he had more than reasonable opportunity to worship, practice and observe his belief at HMBS, or at his home, or mosque and to manifest and propagate his religion as and when he saw fit.”

“For this reason, I would allow the appeal, quash the declaration and award of damaged granted by the learned chief justice,” Justice Allen noted.

Comments

Frosty 4 years, 3 months ago

I'll be honest, i wanted to defend him.....but he was entirely in the wrong. He broke ranks, plain and simple. All he had to do was stand there and respect another religion. He did not have to recite the prayer or anything else. Simply be a disciplined Marine and not break ranks. I am not a Christian or Muslim, I am an Atheist. If a religious person of any religion is holding a prayer that does not even last more than 2-3 minutes i will show them respect and wait it out

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bigbadbob 4 years, 3 months ago

I am also Atheist and will ignor a short religious speech bit when they get into the roll and rant and rave and praise this and that is when I leave. I stopped working with Red cross becasue of the 20 min never ending religious opening and closing religious bible thumping, the end was when one person in a prayer said Japan had the earthquake because they were not christians. Time for Bahamaians to realize there are diffrent religions and to respect that fact.

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DillyTree 4 years, 3 months ago

Islam a cult?!? Once again, showing your ignorance to the world. Do your research and see that Islam is largely the root of Christianity and Judaism, but most Bible thumping fools don't want to hear that.

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DEDDIE 4 years, 3 months ago

I tend to agree with Justice Anita Allen. One of the foundation of a military organization is discipline. There are many good reasons to step out of a formation. If 80% of those in formation step out for a good reason then the entire exercise becomes meaningless. By the way I thought about the atheist thing but I realized that it require 10 times more faith to believe that I came from a big bang than to believe in a creator. If I find a toy car on Mars, the first thing I will assume is that someone must have created it. I am far more complicated than a toy car.

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 3 months ago

I am always amused about this right to practice his/her religion ................ when does a person have the right to object to public worship ceremonies in our country and on what grounds beyond their word without proof that he/she really belongs to that religion?????? We may have a lot of persons masquerading as "Jews" or "Muslims" or "athiests" and objecting to Christian ceremonies for no good reason .......... like children in school or workplace prayers etc. We seem to be in an age of personal privilege without true accountability. SHOULD NOT A PERSON'S RELIGIOUS CONFESSION ALIGN WITH HIS/HER ACTIONS?????

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Frosty 4 years, 3 months ago

your statement is so full of contradictions that i am having a hard time summarizing it but here goes.

"when does a person have the right to object to public worship ceremonies in our country " you answered your self here "right to practice his/her religion"

"what grounds beyond their word without proof that he/she really belongs to that religion" The onus of responsibility to provide proof is not on them it is on their accuser. If you try to force someone to prove themselves as part of a religion, that is religious persecution. Besides, if i ask you to prove you are a christian will you pull out your bible and recite verses or introduce me to your church congregation? That's not enough as anyone studying religious knowledge can do that.

"We may have a lot of persons masquerading as "Jews" or "Muslims" or "Atheists"" To masquerade in public as a member of another religion or a non believer is public denial of belonging to any other religious group. No one is going to do that and then show up to their religious mass later on. It's improbable.

"objecting to Christian ceremonies for no good reason .......... like children in school or workplace prayers etc." See international law on being forced to attend religious gathering or be penalized as religious discrimination and unlawful termination/workplace discrimination. Good reason provided.

"We seem to be in an age of personal privilege without true accountability." Freedom OF Religion is a right not a privilege. It applies to both being free to practice a religion of choice AND freedom from religion.

SHOULD NOT A PERSON'S RELIGIOUS CONFESSION ALIGN WITH HIS/HER ACTIONS????? In this case his religious confession DID align with his/her action and he did not take part in a christian prayer as a Muslim. My religious confession or rather lack thereof aligns with my actions as i do no partake in any religious gathering. if my friends or family pray i simply wait for them to be done if its going to be short or leave if it looks like it will drag on.

Need i remind you of the reason the original settlers of The Bahamas Islands, The Eleutheran Adventurers, came here? It was to escape religious persecution!

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