British MP spurns his veiled voters

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Old 18-Jul-2010
British MP spurns his veiled voters

Proposes French-style ban on burqa

London, July 17

Taking a cue from French parliamentarians, a British Tory lawmaker is refusing to meet his constituents, if they appear before him in Islamic face veil, sparking outrage among Muslims here.

Philip Hollobone, a Conservative MP from Kettering in central England, a self-styled champion of veil ban in the UK, has proposed a French-style parliamentary ban on burqa in the British Isles.

He has tabled a private members bill to ban certain face coverings in public and hopes that the French parliament’s decision this week to ban the veil in public will tip the balance in favour of similar restrictions in other European nations.

In Kettering, Hollobone is asking his female Muslim constituents to come to meet him without face veils or otherwise communicate with him through letters.

“I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: ‘No’, I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is,” Hollobone was quoted as commenting in ‘The Independent’.

“If she was in veil. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter,” he said.

He said the vast majority of Muslim women wore dress allowing people to see their face and claimed no Islamic scholars or clerics said wearing the burqa or niqab was a religious requirement. “It is not a necessity,” he said.

“I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily, interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other’s face.

“God gave us faces to be expressive. It is not just the words we utter but whether we are smiling, sad, angry or frustrated. You don’t get any of that if your face is covered,” he told the paper.

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