Should the burkha be banned in Britain?

June 24, 2009

In the wake of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s support for the burkha to be banned in France, several commentators have called for the all-enveloping gown to be outlawed in Britain too.

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said. “The burkha is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

The issue arose in Britain three years ago when Jack Straw asked Muslim women wearing veils to remove them when they visited his Blackburn constituency surgery. He called the veils a “visible statement of separation and difference.”

The Daily Express weighs in this week with a call for the burkha to be banned in Britain, a demand echoed in the Daily Mail by Saira Khan, runner-up in the first series of ”The Apprentice.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has criticised Sarkozy. Individuals, it says, must have the freedom to choose their attire on the basis of deeply-held religious beliefs.

It adds: “The MCB echoes US President Barack Obama’s caution that ‘it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising 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.’

What do you think — should the burkha disappear from Britain’s streets?


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Anyone walking down the street wearing a WWII era Gestapo uniform would be stoned to death and nobody would protest due to the negative associations that symbolism conjures. Yet, in world where Islam conjures images of oppression, incredible violence, and the monotonous daily reports of suicide bombings, (all in the name of a religion); nobody can see where the wearing of traditional islamic garb is a cause for anxiety among the population? Diversity? Forget hiding behind that one. When Islam cleans up it’s act, then go back to the traditional garb when it’s no longer a concern about not being able to identify you.

Posted by joe fischer | Report as abusive

I am also interested to read the opinions of the obviously young women who wear niqba or the burqa in the UK who compare it to having the freedom to wear a bikini – what a lot of rot. A question to you? Have you always lived in the UK? Have you ever lived in a country where you either have no rights or have been stripped of them because you are a woman? Are you happy to be divorced at whim without legal recourse, are you happy to receive half of what your brother receives as inheritance, are you happy to lose custody of your child or children in a divorce all simply because you are a woman, sorry the list can go on and on? I am very interested in the answer. Those who think that there is no pressure to cover from male relatives in muslim majority countries in certain neighbourhoods is quite frankly deluded. Sure it is not a 100% rule but it sure comes close. Oh and I live in one, unlike you clearly.

Posted by observer | Report as abusive

I have no problem with any woman wearing a long dress (burkha or ball gown) or to wearing a neequab if wished, but I cannot accept that these can be worn by women who deal with members of the public as part of their daily lives eg. teachers, doctors, shop assistance etc. In order to understand and therefore trust, you need to be able to judge peoples expressions. You would not be allowed access anywhere if you insisted on wearing a balaclave or full face helmet for these very reasons.

Posted by AnnieDempsey | Report as abusive

hi there well no i think you ahould not band it its your own religion we all got to do it. its not worth it some muslims dont wear it wer as me i find it difficult bt in mi cuture i have to

Posted by noosh | Report as abusive

What a debate? The following scenarios need to be acknowledged before people go unto stereotyping Islam, and I emphasise on the word stereotype because many of the people sending comments on here seem to have very limited info regarding Islam, and it’s very funny when they think Bikini is a form of giving value.What value? take me and leave me? what does that hint??? Does that really give you freedom? How? I’m just glad I didnt submiss to male domination.

I have no problem what so ever with women wearing the BUrkha(long dress)hijab (head covering.I love my freedom and my right totally excepts the covering…Lived here all my life and I still choose to wear it…Why others have a problem??? Because there totally embedded with pathetic stereotypes.

Women are given many humanitarian rights, and women rights in Islam. The people who do not understand or are totally alien to the teachings should do their research before making their comments.E.g Women being given half inheritence compared to their brothers..When their is a law it is explained, but only intelligent people bother researchging, rather than give their perspective, without a explanatiton and just pure arrogance.Islam is a realigion that gives muslim women the rights that are embraced whole heartedly because it’s a total justification,if people do not reaserch it properly thats their injustice not Islam to blame.

I’m a very young girl and I love the hijab with all my heart…Please no hijab ban.

Posted by Roxy | Report as abusive