Tory MP introduces Bill to ban Burqa

The papers today all cover the news that the Tory MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone, has introduced a Private Members Bill – the ‘Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill’ – that seeks to ban the wearing of the burqa/niqab in public.

In an article for Conservative Home, Hollobone says:

‘…the niqab and the burqa are oppressive dress codes that are regressive as regards the advancement of women in our society…I have been concerned for some time about the niqab and the burqa, but it was not until I took my children to the play area in my local park recently and saw a woman wearing a full burqa that it came home to me how inappropriate and, frankly, offensive it is for people to wear that apparel in the 21st century and especially in Britain…As I was sitting on the bench in the playground watching my children play on the slides, I thought to myself, “Here I am, in the middle of Kettering in the middle of England – a country that has been involved for centuries with spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world-and here’s a woman who, through her dress, is effectively saying that she does not want to have any normal human dialogue or interaction with anyone else. By covering her entire face, she is effectively saying that our society is so objectionable, even in the friendly, happy environment of a children’s playground, that we are not even allowed to cast a glance on her.” I find that offensive and I think it is time that the country did something about it.’

Oh, the irony of a Tory MP being proud of the ‘freedoms’ that Britain has spread around the world and then going on to introduce a parliamentary bill to try and ban the burqa.

Hollobone is also on record as describing the wearing of the burqa as “the religious equivalent of going round with a paper bag over your head with two holes for eyes”. Just imagine the response if a sitting MP had made a similar derogatory remark directed at members of another faith community in the UK. It is another measure of just how anti-Muslim much of the atmosphere in Europe has now become that Hollobone’s remarks led to no official rebuke whatsoever from the Tory party.

Just to be clear: I am not at all convinced by the religious arguments that say it is a requirement that Muslim women should wear the niqab or the hijab for that matter. I can’t really imagine a merciful Creator seeking to punish someone just because they didn’t cover their hair. It doesn’t really make sense. Still, if a woman wants to wear the niqab or hijab, it should be their choice and no one elses. I think that is far more British than Hollobone’s attempt at a  ban.

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5 Responses to Tory MP introduces Bill to ban Burqa

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo in a Bubble Car says:

    Inayat, I am not trying to be supercilious, but do you think it would be acceptable in society if some men decided to walk around all day wearing ski masks? Reading people’s facial expressions in an important part of any human interaction. There is also the security aspects of having one’s face covered. Cases of men wearing burqas to hide their identities have already been reported, and I don’t think they were Muslim transvestites.

    I think the burqa not only dehumanises any woman who wears one but also dehumanises the people she comes into contact with. The burqa is a barrier to integration as well as being an exceedingly hideous and disturbing garment.

    I accept what you say about the burqa not originally arising from Islamic religious law, but it certainly arises from a certain cultural attitude that women are inferior to men and need to be controlled by them.

  2. Count: I honestly couldn’t care less if some men chose to walk around all day wearing ski masks. It would be none of my business. I thought President Obama was spot on when he said:

    ‘It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.’

    http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1902738-6,00.html

  3. you says:

    @Poster 1 – what would your position be on face masks worn in some parts of the world in order to protect from breathing in foul, polluted air?

  4. The Count of Monte Cristo in a Bubble Car says:

    In response to what the poster named “You” wrote: I think you are referring to masks that only cover the nose and mouth; a person wearing such a mask would be still quite recognizable and open to interaction with the wider public. The burqa, on the other hand, is a willful attempt not to be recognizable either as an individual or indeed a human being; it also sends a clear message that the wearer is not willing or able to interact with anyone. Women who wear the burqa, either through their own choice or societal pressure, are turned into little more than sad ghosts who are denied human contact. And why does it have to be women who are forced to cover themselves up in this way? The burqa is clearly the invention of a misogynistic male mind.

  5. steve j says:

    I watched a documentary a while back where an Arabic Muslim asked a UK born Pakistani Muslim why she wore a Niqab, the womens answers were mixed, one reason she gave said that her Religion had informed her to, the other reason she gave was that the veil was associated with Arabic culture and it was her way of showing respect to the country where Islam was born.
    The Arabic Muslim women pointed out that it was neither a requirement of Islam to cover the face, and more importantly that wearing it out of respect for Arabic culture was against Islam.
    I would like to know why some women in Pakistan have battery acid thrown in their faces for refusing to wear niqab, whilst UK born Pakistani Muslim choose to wear them?
    If the reasoning behind wearing Niqab is to get closer to Islam then UK born Pakistani Muslim could concentrate their efforts on learning Arabic the sacred language of the Koran as most UK born pakistani muslim women understand nothing of Arabic whatsoever.

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