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Britain not to bring down veil on burqa

Damian Green rules out the possibility

19th July 2010: Less than a week after French Parliament’s lower house brought down veil on burqas, Britain’s immigration minister Damian Green has ruled out the possibility of following the suit.

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It would be "undesirable" for Parliament to vote on a burqa ban in Britain, Green believes.

The minister has in no uncertain terms stated that Britain will not follow the France pattern of introducing a law prohibiting the wearing the burqa, as the ban would be at variance with "tolerant and mutually respectful society"; and would be "rather un-British". Green asserted the coalition was just not proposing it.

The assertion came soon after a Conservative lawmaker proposed a law to ban the practice after saying he would refuse to meet women constituents wearing the face veil.

Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone tabled a private member’s bill asking the parliament to follow France’s example, adding he personally would not meet women wearing either the burqa or niqab; and would ask them to "communicate with him differently" through a letter.

Green’s comments followed the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain Farooq Murad’s assertion that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims.

Murad had claimed any move to put a ceiling on the expression of Islam by prohibiting the veil or blocking the building of minarets would alienate the Muslim community.

Only recently, France’s lower house of Parliament gave its nod to a ban on burqa-like Islamic veils, five months after France made it clear that it wants the immigrants to sign a ‘no burqa’ contract before being allowed to live in the country.

The approval came soon after justice minister argued hiding face from neighbours was a violation of French values.

In fact, Michele Alliot-Marie’s had kicked off a parliamentary debate with his speech at the National Assembly on the bill to bring down the veil on the practice of wearing burqas, even as French Muslims expressed concern over the issue.

In all, there were 336 votes for the Bill and just one against at the National Assembly. A substantial number of members from the main opposition group, the Socialist Party, did not participate in the vote.

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