Muslim women should be banned from wearing the veil, to improve security and cohesion in Britain, the Church of England’s only Asian bishop has said. The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, urged the Government to introduce legislation that would force Muslims to remove the veil when they are at work or travelling.
In an outspoken attack on the custom of Muslim women to cover their faces, the Pakistani-born bishop said that the Islamic community needed to make greater efforts to integrate into British society.
His call for new laws to control the wearing of the veil in public comes only days after it was revealed that Mustaf Jama, the Somali suspected of murdering WPc Sharon Beshenivsky, is thought to have fled the country by dressing in the niqab, which covers the whole face except the eyes.
Bishop Nazir-Ali, whose father converted from Islam to Catholicism, said that the legislation should not just cover airports, but should extend to all areas of travel where an identity needs to be established, such as tube and train stations and ports. He said that the possible failure of airline staff to challenge Jama was symptomatic of people being “too worried about offending Muslims”.
Yusuf Smith comments: “The only problem is that it has not been proven that Jama did indeed escape this way. It is only a possibility, but it does not deter this vile man from claiming that it’s a security risk. The likely reason even if it is true is that passport checks are no longer done routinely on exit, having been abandoned several years ago on cost grounds. Clearly this man is the first port of call for the tabloids when they want an opinion hostile to Muslims, however ill-informed.”