IHRC Statement in response to Jack Straw’s comments on the veil

In response to news that Jack Straw has asked Muslims women to remove their veils when visiting his surgery, IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh stated:

“It is astonishing that someone as experienced and senior as Jack Straw does not realise that the job of an elected representative is to represent the interests of the constituency, not to selectively discriminate on the basis of religion.

“Muslims, particularly Muslim women, are persistently being preached at to engage in the political system and to gain a voice for themselves. Yet, here are Muslim women who are willing to actively engage in the system only to be told that they must compromise their religious beliefs and practices if they want to be heard.

“If Mr Straw believes it justified to ask women to remove their veils because he feels ‘uncomfortable’, what is to stop another MP asking men to shave their beards or cut their hair before visiting their surgeries, because they feel ‘uncomfortable’?”

Islamic Human Rights Commission press release, 6 October 2006