Paul Nuttall wants to ban burqas in public buildings, but Farida Laeeq says Muslim women should have right to decide if they wear Hijab
A Bootle politician has called for a ban on burqas and niqabs being worn in public buildings in Britain ahead of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of UKIP and a North West MEP, used the global celebration of inspirational women to insist that “all free thinking women” should support his view.
He accused the government of being “scared silly of offending any minority” and claimed “the majority in this country” favoured a ban on face coverings – but did not say which survey produced the findings.Mr Nuttall said: “It is International Women’s Day tomorrow and what better opportunity to call for the empowerment of women and free them from the tyranny of the veil?
“We live in dangerous times when security is all important and it is vital that people’s faces can be seen.“And just as importantly we live in a civilised liberal society and why should women be anonymised in this way? All free thinking women should be supporting a ban on full face coverings in public buildings.”The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear, worn with an accompanying headscarf, while a burqa covers the face and body.Hijab refers to the act of covering up but is often used to describe a headscarf worn by Muslim women.
The president of a Liverpool women’s Muslim group spoke over the government’s controversial proposal to ban the veil.Farida Laeeq, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, spoke out in January against the government’s controversial proposal to ban the veil – and today repeated her concerns when approached by the ECHO for comment.She said: “Whenever there are security concerns or necessary reasons for identification then the Government or authorities have the right to ask women to show their face and we have no objection to that.
“However, our experience is that Ahmadi Muslim women have excelled in the UK in their education careers and become integrated and active members of society whilst abiding by their faith and wearing their Hijab.“If the Government seeks to remove the Hijab or creates conditions to make it difficult for Muslim women to continue with their work or education, then it would deny the UK of a talented and loyal workforce.
“Such a move would stifle opportunities for educated Muslim women and be a loss to the nation. Serving the nation and abiding by the teachings of Islam are not mutually exclusive.”
Mr Nuttall continued: “You cannot stroll into a bank wearing a crash helmet or balaclava for eminently sensible security reasons and it is just common sense that the same should apply to the burqa and niqab. Why should they be exempt?“Also such face, and in the case of the burqa, body coverings are not conducive to integration within our society and it inhibits communication.“Some wearers say it is for religious reasons but how many cases have we heard of where Christians have been forbidden from merely wearing a crucifix at work? There must be consistency in such matters.
“In reality we all know our government is scared silly of offending any minority and bends over backwards to accommodate them, however at odds their ways may be to British traditions and wishes.“Polls have shown that the majority in this country favour a ban on face coverings. It is time their views were put into action.”Mrs Laeeq added: “Islam teaches Muslim men and women to pursue knowledge and to use that to serve their countries.“Whilst we would not encourage banning the veil in any circumstances, let us be clear that according to Islam the standard of basic Hijab requires a Muslim woman to cover her head, hair and chin. It is not essential for the face to be covered.”