`Besides security concerns, burkas are symbol of divided Britain’
18th January 2010: Two years after the British national party (BNP) adopted a motion for banning burka from public view in Britain, the UK Independence party (Ukip) too has joined in.
Making clear his stand on the issue, Nigel Farage, who heads the party’s 13 MEPs, has 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 burka 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 burka 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.
As of now, Farage was not clear how such ban would be implemented, but said a French commission, exploring the options available, would provide some of the answers.
Reacting to the assertion, party leader Salma Yaqoob said she was appalled by Farage’s proposals, adding they did not need a man or a woman to tell people what to wear. As long as it is not being imposed on anybody else, people should have the right to wear it.
The BNP has also reacted to the assertion. Two year ago theirs was the only party to “sound the alarm about the threat of militant Islamism in Britain. Now that events have proven the BNP correct, the shameless opportunists of the UKIP party have tried to steal this policy, Nick Griffin said.