Australian retail lobby slams call for hijab shop ban

A national retail lobby boss has taken a swipe at Queensland retailers for backing calls to ban Muslim women wearing traditional hijabs in shops.

The state’s retail association came out in support of Brisbane’s 4BC radio presenter Michael Smith after he claimed on Wednesday that wearing the hijab or burqa posed a security risk. The Queensland body says the ban should be in line with riders being forced to remove their helmets when entering a store or bank.

But the National Retailers Association, which has no association with the Queensland organisation, has rejected calls for the ban. “I think it’s a bit of dog whistle,” executive director Richard Evans told ABC Radio, adding there was no evidence to support claims the wearing of hijabs was a security concern for shopkeepers.

He accused the Queensland retail group of trying to categorise a certain group of women and create fear among them. “It’s outrageous, to be honest with you, absolutely outrageous. It diminishes not only those folks who wear those outfits, but diminishes all of us.”

AAP, 16 January 2009