One Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, is hoping that Britain will follow Belgium and introduce a repressive ban on the niqab and the burqa. He will present his Private Members Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill in the House of Commons today. The Parliament website describes it as:
A Bill to regulate the wearing of certain face coverings; and for connected purposes.
The bill appears to stop short of calling for a full ban, although it would restrict the wearing of the full-face veil in public places such as banks, post offices and school entrances.
But Hollobone clearly views it as a first step and has previously made his support for a full ban clear. During a Commons debate on International Women’s Day he said:
The phrase that has been given to me time and again is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is Britain; we are not a Muslim country. Covering one’s face in public is strange, and to many people it is intimidating and offensive. I seriously think that a ban on wearing the niqab or the burka in public should be considered.
Like other supporters of an illiberal ban, Hollobone has yet to provide a convincing answer to the point that those who complain that Islamist men tell women how to dress are doing precisely this by calling for a ban. On matters of sexual equality, Muslim women would be better served by the enforcement of existing laws against domestic violence than by the enactment of new laws restricting their dress.
See also “Tory MP launches first legal bid to ban burkha in Britain”, Daily Mail, 30 June 2010
Update: And see the comments that follow the Evening Standard report. Some examples:
“In 100 yrs time GB will be a third world country and these things will be compulsory for women.”
“If it were up to me I would not only ban the burka but miranets too, there are far too many of these towering and over powering eye sores.”
“Stuck on a small Island with all these different religions is really frightening.”
“If these women feel so strongly about the Muslim religeon they should stay in their own country and not expect us to accept them.”
“Burkas have no place in Britain. The sooner these horrid things are taken off our streets the better. East London is full of burka clad women, they cause segregation and fear.”
“This is the best piece of news I’ve heard in a long while. Burkas should have never been legal in Western countries in the first place. The sooner these vile things are made illegal the better.”
“The burka should be made illegal without a shadow of a doubt. Not only are these hideous garments a security threat, but they look awful too, just another way Muslim women choose NOT to integrate.”
“A great opportunity to send out a clear message to the extremist Muslims leeching of our Christian society.”