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?

55 comments

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You know, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to ban these burkhas. I know here in America, we don’t see them as often. However, in France and Britain, I understand that they are far more prevalent. I agree with the statement that the burkha is a picture of separation. No matter how long Muslims have lived in a country, it is still a symbol of separation. I understand the need for religious acceptance; I myself am a Christian-the Bible tells me to separate from the evil activities of this world so the concept is not foreign. The difference is the pure disdain that Muslims often have for the country they live in. For instance, there are several Muslims that I have met that hate the United States of America. Is that wrong, certainly not. They are entitled to their opinion. The problem is when they continue to live here and criticize everything about MY country with little regard for tact. If you don’t like the way our countries operate (England, France, U.S.), just get out. Stop complaining about it and leave. You are more than welcome to stay if you will be content with the way things are, but don’t stand around spitting on the country that has given so many people opportunities they would never have dreamed of elsewhere. My Bible tells me to love every person equally, and I believe I truly do. Just don’t bite the hand that feeds you. This argument would be a mute point if it were not for the fact that there is such discontent within Muslim ranks. They want special treatment, and, whether average Muslims know it or not, the highest reaches of Islam desire to destroy every aspect of Western society; starting with the U.S., France, and Great Britain. In this day of tolerance, there is no tolerance among Muslims for our Western Civilization. Lose the burkha while you live in our countries please.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I would like to see the Burkha banned if not for the simple reason that I find it quite scary – and have done since I first saw a woman wearing it in London some 20 years ago. Furthermore, it does nothing to help this Government’s policy of “inclusion” – if that is truly what it is pursuing?! I feel also that when one is in Rome … I’m no prude but I wouldn’t dream of going to a Muslim country and flout bare arms and legs purely as a sign of respect for their ways – the same respect from Muslims in this country would go a long way to dissolving the anger that many Caucasians feel towards the omnipresence that is “tolerance” (interesting choice of buzzword by New Labour) towards Muslim ways and laws in Britain.

Posted by Flisspops | Report as abusive

Hi

I think Burkha should be banned not because of discrimination but because you could have terror suspects wearing them and moving around and no one can suspect them, especially after so much on tension created by extremists.

It is important to respect all religions however I do feel that every person face needs to be visible for security reasons of all. This includes other crimes as well..

Yes, it should absolutely be stopped. They promote the non-integration of people who want to live in a non-muslim country and then import the muslim way of life. That is not acceptable. Furthermore, the Burkha should absolutely be banned in British schools. I feel that it is intimidating to non-muslim children and again promotes segregation.

In short , yes I belive they should be banned. My motivation for this belief is not hared or fear but good old common sense ( does anyone remember that?? ) Burkha’s allow people ( and notice i wasn’t being gender specific there ) to travel unchallenged for fear of security servce officers being branded racist or some other vile tag yet I have had first hand reports from friends in security services of men travelling under the disguise of a burkha to avoid detection.

In turn i’ll ask another question. Would it be acceptable for anyone to walk down a street unchallenged wearng a balaclava solely on the grounds of religious beliefs. You’d last all of ten seconds on any major high street before the police would be having a tug of your collar.

Some of the sentiment above is pure xenophobia at it’s best however underneath the vitriol lies a fair and reasonable argument. Play by the rules of common sense or don’t play at all.

Posted by the enlightened one | Report as abusive

Yes it should be banned. It is not required. In fact covering is not required at all if most Muslims knew their own holy book properly. In fact the headcovering came originally from the wealthy Jewish and Christian women of the Levant where people of all faiths lived together in harmony for centuries. Also the four wives thing has a string of conditions attached to it. You arent supposed to have four wives just because you can and you are sick of your first one. Anyone with half a brain would see that this was an attempt at social security in those days for women who were widowed and had children or needed protection. Not like you could run down to the local dole office to sort yourself out if your husband was killed in one of the many wars. I am tired of the ignorance with which these texts are read. People MUST start to read them in light of the problems that they were meant to address in those days (and leave them back in that century)

It is affront to women and an affront to the values that our mothers fought for in societies such as the UK – equality, dignity and respect.

I am married to someone who happens to be of the Muslim religion. We don’t like the way that the fundamentalists are hijacking everything and belittling peoples’ faith in something bigger than themselves. Enough already. Think – that is what the Koran tells you to do in the first line pretty much – think!

The only problem is that the men who insist that their women must cover if they go out will now not let their women out if they are not covered. I wonder how they bear to live in secular countries if this is how they feel. Perhaps they should reevaluate their priorities and values and what is important to them and whether they can live somewhere they doesn’t conform to their values rather than asking us to conform and condone theirs which most people if they answered truthfully find abhorent.

Posted by observer | Report as abusive

It should definitely be banned as I know of a man who was banned from a local premises and succeeded on gaining entry by wearing a burkha.

Nobody thought to question him as it is seen as incurring the wrath of other muslims to see the face of the person underneath.

— NEWSFLASH — This is not a muslim country —-

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

I think Burkas are hateful and repressive of those who wear them. But I also believe we are a free country in which people should be free to make their own choices as long as it does no harm to others. Much as I dislike seeing people in Burkas, I have to respect other peoples freedom to wear them.

I’m not sure how you tell whether someone has chosen to wear one or is being forced to wear one, but that is a different matter. The law should give a woman in the UK the explicit right not to wear a Burka; but it should not tell her she cannot chose to do so.

That said, I think wearing a Burka is incompatible with some professional choices: including being a teacher, because children need to see the expressions on the face of the teacher; and judicial appointments, because justice needs to be seen to be done. So people who choose to wear Burkas also have to accept that doing so will create some constraints to their activities.

Posted by richard in london | Report as abusive

Women were treated badly by all religions at some point in time. Sweeping measures to rectify this discrimination are taking shape all over. As a part of the same global initiative, currently these women who are forced to wear the demeaning burka need to be liberated. Followed by other issues like property, divorce and child custody rights etc. They don’t need to feel guilty to show their face or hair.

That exposing face and hair will take away ones religiosity sounds hollow, as religion is more to do with spirituality and less with physical appearance. Chastity or virtuous, moral self will not be violated by removal of burka. They will be recognized as human beings with unique identity (face) that every one lives with. How long these beleaguered women will have to put up with man imposed slavery.

Why are the burkaclad women silent? Don’t they have their mans permission to use internet or worse don’t have education to read? Burka is never voluntary.
Why the working women don’t put on the scary cloak (as shown in the picture)? Obviously it is not encouraged in offices. Because, customers need to identify a human with a face and a name, than just to look at a piece of garment facing them (customers). That should as well apply to a woman shopping in grocery stores. Identity and dignity are established plain and simple. Bravo France.

I don’t think the Burka should be banned. The question is whether the dress code is forced or not. If it isn’t forced and the women are doing it out of choice then it shouldn’t be banned. If Britain bans the Burka then it should ban all forms of religious head gear (or religious symbols) whether it is Sikhs with their Turbans or Jews with their caps or Cristians with their Cross.

If the Burka represents a religious belief it should be respected. The question that both muslims and non-muslims should ask is what does the burka represent and why do muslim women wear it? A little cultural/religious sensitivity is in order.

I think both muslims and non-muslims need to educate themselves about the burka itself before heading into a debate.

If Saudi Arabia force women to wear the Burka how is France different from banning women from wearing it? Isn’t it the same form of extremism, what happened to free choice?

Posted by Mason | Report as abusive

How narrow minded can people get! Media driven hysteria is what is driving these moves against veils, burhka’s and everything else nowadays. Even bans on wearing crosses are out there, why? Whats the point? There’s comments on here about integration and separation but isn’t the rejection of someone else’s values and religion also a type of separation? WHat a lot of rubbish this is!
Yet, Brits head out to places like Dubai, Muslim countries, and act in ways in public they wouldn’t even do at home! Then they dare to complain then they land in jail and have a host of web campaigns for their release!
How sad it is when the ‘western world’, the ones that claim to open, free and accepting, are the ones that are closing people’s options, causing separation on their own doorsteps!

Posted by James (Abu Dhabi) | Report as abusive

This is England, and I feel highly affronted, even threatened, when I am walking down a street and find a phalanx of black clad faceless figures (presumably female, but how do I know?) walking towards me. They can see me, but deny me the basic courtesy of allowing me to see them.

The ruddy “burka” should be made illegal for many good reasons: for reasons of female emancipation, for basic cultural and courtesy reasons, and for security reasons.

Posted by Sandy | Report as abusive

I don’t think an outright ban is the answer, but I do not think that burkas should be allowed in any professional situations involving contact with other people (nurses, doctors, teachers, bank clerks etc) and most importantly, I think that the arguments against the burka should continue to be made as forcefully as possible, without fear of the whingeing of the religious lobby. Burkas are discriminatory against women and a symbol of repression, and should have no place in the 21st century.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Yes it shold be banned. We had none of this nonsense in the UK before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Women who are educated, are made to wear it by uneducated men.
I am sick and tired of wet authoritarian liberal who allow this situation to continue.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

‘Mason’ posted this…”If Saudi Arabia force women to wear the Burka how is France different from banning women from wearing it? Isn’t it the same form of extremism, what happened to free choice?”

Mason raises an interesting point but I wonder if the principle of moral equivalance has been stretched to breaking. France bans the burka for reason of liberty on the presumption that the wearing of the burka can be an act of individual violation and at least in some circustances this must be true. Whereas Suadi Arabia forces women to wear it for reasons of social control as Islam does not require it.

Saudi Arabia gives women no alternatives to the burkha, but France still allows religious observance by female Muslims by wearing a Niqab or indeed for total non observance if they choose to do so. So, really how can there be any moral equivalance within these two states. Looked at in detail the proposition is absurd.

‘James from Abu Dhabi’ also seems to fall into this trap, he seems to be saying that Muslims within western countries should have their cultural rights respected absolutely and that host western countries are wrong to deny them their own lifestyle choices but at the same time he suggests that Brits going to Dubai should not complain when they are jailed for activities which would be considered normal within their own culture. Surely, this kind of logic will mean that Muslims living within western countries will have more freedoms than they would enjoy within their indigenous, religious states but westerners going to religious states should not expect the same courtesy.

Based on this the host ‘western’ countries should never quarrel with an ever increasing Islamisation of their cultures as they should be ‘open, free and accepting’ enough to allow their own moral values to be usurped.

This also sounds absurd when analysed in detail.

Posted by Suzy | Report as abusive

I agree that people should have the freedom to practice their religion, yet sometimes the government has the right to limit actions, even if they are “religiously-motivated.” Interesting article here: http://www.mindreign.com/en/mindshare/Wo rld-Politics-and-Current-Events/Sarkozy- 3a-e2-80-9cMuslim-Burqas-are-Unwelcome-e 2-80-9d/sl34045952bp295cpp5pn1.html

Posted by rick | Report as abusive

As has already been discussed here, the burkha is not a religious symbol but a cultural item – of a culture that is not British. It should also be noted that hair coverings and head scarves have not been mentioned in this article – many Christian and Muslim women alike do, and are free to choose to cover their hair and dress modestly.

Here is a matter of common courtesy, of respect and of security. British non-Muslims are not able to legally hide their identity with such items as balaclavas. Why is the law different for Muslim women?

Covering is not required by the Qur’an, but was imposed by ancient societies to control women. The women who choose to wear such items belittle the actions of womens’ rights protesters; of groups such as the suffragists and suffragettes; make a mockery of British equality law; and insult those women in Middle-Eastern countries who are still required by law to wear such items. And those women who are forced to wear the burkha even in this country must be liberated.

Posted by Jonathan | Report as abusive

In one word YES. I find them very offensive, If we all started to wear them, then it would be a different story.

I have to remove my crash helmet when entering a bank, so I find them no different.

Posted by M Robertson | Report as abusive

I am very surprised by these western countries they call them self champions of human right and they are interfering in some body choice.I think it’s sound stupid to decide me or you to some one wear burka or not.Its someone choice.If some body wanna follow his religion its his/her choice.secular people shouldn’t have any right to make every body secular.It’s every body choice what ever he/she want to do.I think no body has right to debate on other body choice.

Posted by nasir | Report as abusive

Freedom, integration and tolerance are principles that supposedly part of the core values of western culture.In this light each person is entitled to dress according to their own personal taste and choice, at least in their private lives. Therefore I hold the goverment has no say in this matter.

Besides, banning the Burkha is not a practice of integration but rather a tyrannical act of imposing the customs of the majority, in which the minority is forced to give up their beliefs in order to conform. Instead, I think that it is not the government who have to dictate an “acceptable dress code” but it is society as a whole who have to raise the voice and make muslim women know that the CAN choose NOT to wear the Burkha if they do not want to and accept those who willingly choose wear it. There is the key to real freedom and tolerance.

However, it should be concidered that wearing a Burkha may be a useful means for terrorist to hide their features and then the government does have the authority to demand that any person should show their faces if prompted to do so for security reasons by the police or any competent authority.

Personally, I do not like Burkhas because I believe that women should not hide their features. But, I have no authority to impose that on those who willingly decide to wear them, be it for religious beliefs or just personal taste… so I can learn to coexist with Burkhas

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Honestly, they make me feel uncomfortable. I feel, whether justified or not, that when you’re talking to someone wearing one that they’re hiding something. I also fear when I see someone driving in one – how can that possibly be safe? There should be some regulation regarding that. And as a woman I think that the women are naive to think it is not a sign of repression.

Posted by Nicola | Report as abusive

Taking away a Muslim womans freedom to wear what she wants in a ‘freedumb’ lovin country; France? ha!

Posted by jayil | Report as abusive

Suzy, you picked up the points i was going to raise regards Mason and James. Well put.

Just today in a group discussion this very issue was raised, but to do with the way nuns dress, and i was amazed and shocked, when i was verbally berated. I stated where the nuns have changed many aspects of their dress to come into line with modern styles, many still wear the traditional dress according to their religious faith.

Members of my group said this is the same as the wearing of the burkha, it is a religous requirement. When i stated it is not part of their religious requirements i was accused of being a racist and anti-islamic!

People have become so orientated and confused by politically correct rhetoric, both imposed by Government and Radical Muslim sects, that we are losing all objectivity.

Islamification appears to be an ever growing word bandied about, both through fear, ignorance and non assimilation into the community as a whole.

I believe the Burkha should be banned as this would assist in dismissing many of the fears and allow greater, more effective communication.

We see it on bank doors and post offices, remove your helmet, hoodie etc, before entering for security reasons, so why should we make seperate allowances for the burkha when it is not a religious requirement?

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

I commend the French Prime Minister Mr Sarkozy for being so courageous, to be the first western leader to have the courage to implement something which the majority of people agree with – the banning of the burkha in the western society. It’s about time that other leaders have the courage to do the same, or the decency to give the public the vote, so they can make the decision. It is neither racist nor discriminating to ban it. England is not a Muslim society, and the burkha is not worn for religious purposes – but oppression. For those who feel strongly about wearing it, perhaps they should go to a country where it is widely accepted, and not remain in one where it is simply tolerated through fear. It is only on the ground of fear that we accept it and that within itself can encourage predjudism. We can respect the people’s view that are told they have to wear it, but simply not in our country. When we visit a Muslim country we have to abide by their rules – you have to cover yourself up. There is no form of identifying the individual under the burkha; it could even be a man – who knows? Why am I not allowed to wear a balaclava in the street – it’s the same difference – only my eyes are exposed – yet the police will tell me to take it off. At the end of the day, a burkha is a mask, hiding your identity. So ban it.

Posted by Nathan | Report as abusive

I believe in freedom provided that freedom does not infringe on the freedoms of others. I have no problem with a woman wearing a burkha if she so chooses. However, I strongly object to that woman reinforcing the idea that female subservience is normal or in any way acceptable.

I don’t have a problem with a nudism, but I don’t expect to be confronted with it on a daily basis. I’m not sure how easy it is to play volleyball in a burkha but perhaps muslim women who choose to wear one could do so away from normal (and I chose that word deliberately) society where they aren’t doing any harm.

Provided burkhas are worn in private and only in the presence of consenting adults then fine, go ahead. But they should never be permitted in public where they continue to propagate the idea in future generations that a woman is the property of a man.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Can somebody please clarify a crucial point for me – are women forced to wear burkhas by ignorant, prejudiced and oppressive men, as some people here assert or assume; or do they choose to wear them of their own free will, as others insist? We seem to have arguments from both viewpoints, but they can’t both be correct. Burkhas cannot be symbols of both oppression and freedom of choice at the same time. So which is it? Surely establishing such a fundamentally important point of fact should be the starting point of any debate.

Posted by PaulP | Report as abusive

Suzy, there is no difference!

You say France still allows religious observance by female Muslims but it is trying to curb it as much as possible. It has already banned the hijab in public places – which everyone agrees is not objectionable to women. Why is France no asking nun’s to stop wearing what they are wearing?

France, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, is imposing its dress code on women. Both are going against the freedom of the woman. France may be doing what it is doing to protect secularism, but the Taliban did what they did to protect their values as well. What’s the difference?

What about the women who want to wear it because they don’t want their bodies to be objectified like it is in some cases in the West? What about the argument that women in the West are overly sexualised and coerced by society to wear clothes that they really don’t want to wear? Is there a parallel of dress codes of men and women in the West?? Why not?

France’s move is narrow-minded and designed to pander to the increasing racist population

Posted by J.B | Report as abusive

This has got to be the stupidest debate ever in a free society. If someone is harmed or forced to do something then they should be protected from the “assault” by the law. Admittedly difficult in a domestic situation, but there you are. If they want to wear it then so what. I think the day we can all live in peace is when all the busy-bodies on all sides of these debates just stop stirring it and let people get on with their normal lives. “Normal” of course depends on your cultural viewpoint, but lets not make laws around banning elements of one culture or another, except where there is deliberate harm being done to the individual (i.e of course forcing people to do things is wrong).

Posted by Russell | Report as abusive

I have no idea how Sarkozy can get away with this under EU human rights rules. While he may have identified that there is a problem in the Muslim community in their treatment of women, creating such laws is unhelpful and will lead to unforeseen consequences. Women will simply not be allowed to leave the house. Muslim husbands might become more jealous when their wives leave the house causing family tension and violence. This is why the French have a strike culture; because the establishment impose ill-thought plans on the population without any dialogue with the appropriate people.

Posted by Iwan Whiteley | Report as abusive

Hi, I’m from France. (Sorry for my bad English…)
Everyday I see men & women wearing a little Christian cross. And nobody feel uncomfortable with this… It’s a choice for them. You may think it’s easy, but for me, the burkha is like those little crosses, or like the kippa for Jews.
I asked a woman wearing burkha, “Is it a choice for you?”
She said “Yes, my parents are from Morocco and all the women in my family wear burkha, it’s in my culture, it’s a part of my identity”.
What should I think?
A law about burkha is a mistake. It’s a choice of women, not a repression from the husband.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive

hi
loads of people are leaving bad comments about burkha well i ask you this…
have you ever heard any woman wearing burkha being rapped…NO…why because she is coverd up in a way that no man can see anything therefore is not attractive to her…where as comapring to the more “revealing” dresses is where you are more open to attacks like this…

and if you do see in UK or europe there are many asian girls who don’t wear burkha which shows that they are not being forced to wear it!

a woman should have the right to cover herself to avoid being the so called “eye candy” of the perverts walking around the streets and having dirty thoughts about any girl/woman they look at who is dressed in such way…

and if there is a ban on burkha it can only be justifed by the security threat no other valid reasons can be give for banning of burkha

Posted by ALI | Report as abusive

Absolutely YES! We don`t really need another religious symbol of oppression which is so dividing as well. All the Muslim wanting so desperately to follow their religious beliefs have the right to do so in THEIR countries.

Posted by Georgi | Report as abusive

Should the burkha be banned? No.

Should Reuters censor comments made on the issue to suit the view of its blogger? No.

But it does.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

Ali

Unfortunately a Muslim woman is more likely to be raped by a member of her family (including her husband)sans or con burqa.
Fortunately a lot of countries in the “west” have made marital rape illegal because this is our human right. What about your the human rights of the “sisters” – and dont be so bigotted towards uncovered women. We are not meat and men are NOT allowed to touch us if we dont want them to.

Posted by observer | Report as abusive

Surely banning the burkha is a ludicrously pointless thing to do anyway, as any lady who wanted to completely cover their head could still do so using a balaklava or maybe a paper bag with eye-holes cut in it.

I would be in support of allowing banks, shops, pubs etc the right to insist that people do not completely cover their heads, and such a request should apply equally to balaklavas, cycle helmets & paper bags as it would to burkhas. Then there’s no discrimination.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

People talk about respecting cultures, well please respect British Culture.

British Culture is seriously against the concealment of the face. The Hoodie The Helmet the Balaclaver or even tattoos on the face. We are against the face being hidden.

It’s time to make a stand on this issue. British Culture is very flexable and adoptive, but this social rule is one people are obviously not willing to or are to happy to compromise on.

Respect British Culture, dont come here or go live in a muslim country if you dont like it.

Posted by Ben Wilson | Report as abusive

YES, there is no place for such attire in a free country that seeks equal rights for all. It is completely ludicrous that a woman should be obligated to cover her face in public in the name of religion … what complete tosh.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

first and foremost we need to understand that we live in a democracy which gives us certain freedom. If we did live in china or north korea then the goverment could ban the burka and the law of the land would be right and absolute. The govt has no right as this is a form of freedom of speech, the state should be championing the peoples rights and not mentioning that people wear the burka not for as a fashion statement but its a deep and spiritual yearning. to say what religious women can and cannot wear is is of no concern of the govt and anyone else for that matter. The law is just and the law is absolute, the seperation of chuch and sate is paramount to this debate and should be consulted before any decisions are made. i close my argumnet with saying that the freedom of an individual was laid down in in the magna carta at a time when human being were batterd yet they had the insight and bravery to curb the despotic rule of king John. St Augustine said that “An unjust law is no law at all”, this is the basis of civil disobedience which most definately will be the outcome.

observer

a muslim women is not likely to get rapped by her family…
a women is given more respect in islam its the lack of knowledge and education that people have different ways of understanding things…
and you are not very clear about what you mean by the rights of “sister” ???

and about uncovered women i have all the respect for them and yes you are not meat…(thats what islam teach me to respect women)
and rape is forcing someone into sex! not allowing them so the fact that a women allow it or not rape happens by force more chance of it if a women is showing off her body!
and thats why you will find that there are more rapes in europe or usa than an islamic country!! and rape is also punishable by death in islam. so quiet clearly islam is giving women more protection its the illiterate people…and you can say anything about them i am not defending those who degrade women…and there are good and bad people in every society…

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

People should not live in a country when they are not prepared to integrate into its society. Britain is not (and hopefully never will be) a Muslim country, and if people are so keen to retain attitudes and prejudices that are alien to its culture then they should leave. I cannot abide the “but we’re special” arrogance of these minority groups that want the best this country can provide but are unwilling to make any sacrifices themselves – whether those minorities be based on race, religion, or in the case of Judaism, both.

If their ways are better than our ways, then leave. Simple.

Posted by Paul Harper | Report as abusive

What is the point of cctv cameras if they are unable to face recognise individuals and also these people who insist on the wearing of the burkha obviously do not care about offending the general british public.Also they conveniently forget that a male terrorist attempted to escape justice by disguising himself in that particular offensive garb.Any woman who wears the burkha is one of two things , a troublemaker or brainwashed.

Posted by patrick flanagan | Report as abusive

The burkha belongs in the Middle Ages. Hiding behind a mask has no place in a modern open society.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

I just want to comment on “whats people talking about? the burkhas the gown that muslim sisters wear because of the fact i wear one. Your talking about the viel which is the neeqab.
No matter whether this be a muslim country or not i have every right to wear what i want to wear and nobody can take that right off me! I’m a british blooded who was brought up in britain and i have decided to stick to religion, rather than running around a bikini set.
Anybody remember DIVERSITY!

Posted by Halima Ali | Report as abusive

The headress or full cover is simply a way of showing that you are different in the UK. It also is used as a way to show defiance against our way of life.
Many who wear the covering are simply challenging our democracy and are looking for an excuse to be different.
I think the French are challenging the wearing of the burkha as a way of drawing a line in the sand and that they will stop tolerating the “enemy within”.
Sooner or later there will be a reckoning in Europe
where a lot of the minority interest groups will be challenged.
If people want to come to UK/Europe then they need to know that we are a liberal society (if you don’t like that go to the more repressive countries) and the cross is our symbol(worn here before any minority interest groups ever came to live here)the burkha is not nor is the headress.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

From a feminist perspective yes I do believe Burkhas should be banned in Britain and all western countries.
We should be celebrating our likeness not celebrating our differences by wearing clothes that make someone not part of the society they are living in which is a western society.
I think melting pots are the answer not ppl segregating themselves or choosing to show the world that they consider themselves some how different to other ppl in society.

Posted by Caroline Breslin | Report as abusive

If a women chooses to wear revealing clothes I feel that is subjugating to attract unnecessary male attention…Cosmo, bliss, Glamour all these magazines totally bombard women with what type of trend they should follow..and forever changing…lol That’s a subjugation to men…If a women chooses to wear the burkha then it is the same as wearing a maxi dress but not having it sleevless. I think If muslim women were opressed they would be showing more flesh, and show their a mans business…It makes me laugh when people think women should stay In Islamic countries if they want to practise the burkha wearing.The interference of west then goes to places like Afghanistan,Iraq,Iran etc etc telling women that “If you want to wear it we will haunt you to strip it off”…Learn the difference between Burka and nikaab…lol

Posted by Shakira | Report as abusive

As a Muslim who has embraced the religion, from wearing tight skimpy clothes if I decided to wear it what’s other peoples problem?? tut tut…. This is supposed to be a debate about the Nikaab not the Burkha…Nikaab is the viel, Burkha is a long dress.FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION…juged for their phisical attributes.The man is pleasured with more shown not less shown…It’s bloody hilarious when people think the Burkha is worn for male realtives..Do western men force their women to wear reaveling clothes for the sake of their own phsical and mental pleasures? hahaha the biggest joke is when you think muslim women cover because of their male male relitives tell them to…Everyone is different.Everyone has different choices they are entitled to make…It’s my choice and I love wearing the hijab, Burkha….feminists are to fight for womens rights, therefore if a women chooses to dress in a hijab and Burkha then that’s her business…. Burkha should never be bannned…Religion does not stay home it’s a belief you carry where ever you go…I’m born and bred in this country and if I decided to cover I don’t need to travel else where………

Posted by Alisha | Report as abusive

I read with interest the comment by Halima Ali regarding the right to be allowed to wear what you want. Try wearing a bikini in a Muslim country and see what happens. Dress has nothing to do with religion, but some people want to make it so. Regarding the Burkha,it’s the most impractical piece of apparel that I can think of to wear in this country.

I do feel that all people should be allowed to wear what they want to within in reason in what ever country they are in. This is never going to happen and most people do cover up in Muslim countries. However this is not only out of respect but also fear.

Nowadays however clothing that obscures facial features and prevents identification can no longer be accepted. A balakklava cannot be worn in the street. A scarf across the mouth and nose or a crash helmet cannot be worn in public regardless of race or religion.

These measures have had to be taken because sad sick misinformed people carry out all sorts of crimes against society from assault to terrorism. Everyone wake up get a life dress as you want but don’t hide your identity. Simple eh?

yes Ali the death penalty for rape, after testimony by four male witnesses according to the shariah – all very civilised! When was the last time you actually lived in a majority muslim country where the shariah is the law of the land?

Honestly, so you do believe that if a woman is showing off her body then she is inviting someone to rape her – love a duck – has our society regressed this far?

Yes there are good and bad people in every society but fortunately in western countries (still) people are punished for assault and rape of women (in a more civilised manner) including those who use God to invoke a defence for their crime of rape. There is no defence to rape – not asking for it, not provocation and certainly not because someone is wearing something provocative. Enough already – this argument disgusts me. Because it is backward. Muslims do NOT have a monopoly on morality believe me.

Posted by observer | Report as abusive

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