`Ban on burqa waste of police time’: Straw

The British Justice Secretary recommends against change in law

burqa-blue-eyes.png11 February 2010: Less than a month after the UK Independence party (Ukip) joined the British national party (BNP) on the issue of adopting a motion for banning burqa from public view in Britain, British Justice Secretary Jack Straw has asserted it would be a waste of police time.

Straw told the MPs that he would strongly recommend against a change in the law. The assertion was met by strong condemnation By Ukip MEP Gerard Batten. He was of the view that burqas, crash helmets and balaclavas must be governed by the same set of rules. As such, these must be removed in buildings such as banks and airports.

Tory MP Philip Hollobone had earlier asserted he had "huge sympathy" with people who backed a ban on the controversial burqas.

Two years after the BNP adopted a motion for banning burqa from public view in Britain, the Ukip had only recently made its stand clear on the issue.

Nigel Farage, who heads the party’s 13 MEPs, had asserted he was not in favour of Muslim women covering their faces. Besides security reasons, they were also a symbol of a divided Britain, he said.

He told the BBC’s Politics Show that the move was justified from the security point of view, as it hampered identification of people on the CCTV.

Farage said if he wanted to go into a bank wearing a motorcycle helmet, he couldn’t. It was also not acceptable to wear a balaclava on the Tube or bus systems. Even some of the shopping centres forbade hoodies, as these disguise the wearer. The Muslim veils were no different in having that effect, but UKIP believed that security issues aside, they are also a symbol of a divided Britain.

Farage was also of the opinion that burqa was also a symbol of something used to oppress women. The policy of lacing a ban was aimed at addressing feelings of unease in British society at women wearing the burqa and niqab.

In an attempt to put things in perspective, he said they were part of a cultural, not religious, garment. There was no requirement in the Koran to wear a veil, only to dress modestly. UKIP believed that the wearers were prevented from full assimilation into their way of life because of the feelings of unease they gave rise to in the rest of the population.

He said it was a matter of concern that they were heading towards a situation where many of the cities were ghettoized and there was even talk of sharia law becoming part of British culture.

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