Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tory MP refuses to meet Muslim women wearing burkas

Hip Hip Hooray.  At last, a politician who refuses to meet with burka clad women.  But then, they might be burka clad men.


Tory MP refuses to meet Muslim women wearing burkas

By Mail Online Reporter
Last updated at 10:36 AM on 17th July 2010

A Conservative MP who launched a bid to ban Muslim women from wearing the burka said today he will refuse to hold meetings with constituents wearing a face veil.

Philip Hollobone's Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public.

The Kettering MP has said he will not meet with burka or niqab-clad women at his constituency surgery unless they lift their veils.

'It is not a necessity. 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,' he told the Independent.

'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. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter.'
Philip Hollobone

Controversial: Tory MP Philip Hollobone wants to stop public wearing of burkas

Mr Hollobone's move came after French MPs voted in favour of banning full face veils in public.

The draft legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, will pass to the upper house, or Senate, in September.

In 2006, Jack Straw sparked controversy when he revealed that he asked Muslim women to lift their veils at his surgeries in his Blackburn constituency.

The then Leader of the House of Commons said he was concerned about the 'implications of separateness' and the development of 'parallel communities'.

However, Mr Straw told The Independent he did not agree with Mr Hollobone's stance.

He said: 'I was seeking to generate a debate within a framework of freedom. I see constituents wearing a burka on a regular basis. I don't need to ask them (to lift it) and I see them regardless. About half agree and half refuse.'

Muslim groups have condemned the Tory's stance. Shaista Gohir of the Muslim Women's Network UK said: 'He is just being pedantic and trying to fan the flames of intolerance. He would be failing in his duty as an MP.

'If someone has made an effort to come and see him and participate in a democratic society, he should take the opportunity to engage. He might learn from the process.'

Arzu Merali from the Islamic Human Rights Commission added: 'We should be getting beyond this. These things should not be influencing you as a public servant.'

Mr Hollobone has previously come under fire for criticising the burka during a Commons debate.

He claimed the garment was the 'religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes'.

He was investigated by police for alleged racial hatred after the Northamptonshire Race Equality Council complained.

Debates in Parliament are protected by Parliamentary privilege and the police decided there was no case to answer.