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The government's announcement about face coverings, which came in early July, felt like a necessary putting-down of the foot. In a way the new laws are tangential to the Matthews case: no woman, at any point in the affair, refused to expose her face when asked. But the symbolism of the move was crucial. It was time for a gentle reassertion of common sense. 

Muslim groups welcomed the legislation. The symbolism of that was important too. The Council for Civil Liberties called it "a knee-jerk response", but they say that about everything — and anyway, in this case the metaphor was useful. After repeated applications of the hammer, it was encouraging to learn that our institutions did, after all, contain some sort of nerve.    

Meanwhile, Carnita Matthews's lawyer has filed an application for costs. These, he says, are likely to be "fairly modest".

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