A senior Church of England bishop has called for a near-full-out ban on the wearing of burkas in public.
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, GP surgeries, universities and schools.
The Ex-Bishop said a ban should also extend to areas where there were legitimate security and safety concerns, such as at airports or while driving a car. He also said it was acceptable for women to wear face veils at home, while in the street and at prayer.
Bishop Nazir-Ali told The Mail on Sunday:
We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burka and making an effective getaway. For reasons of national security, there will be places like Parliament or Whitehall or town halls and council chambers where the burka should not be allowed.
Staff at airports and courts also needed to see people’s faces.
Many professions require personal interaction with the client. In business, both the trader and the customer should be able to see one another’s face and to interpret expressions if the transaction is to be mutually beneficial. This is even more true of doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics.
It is true that some women choose to wear the burka or niqab because they feel it makes them more observant Muslims…
It is also true, however, that the burka or niqab is being weaponised by Islamists to impose what they consider to be “Islamic” character on communities, neighbourhoods and even nations.
‘In Britain, this has serious implications for the freedom of women, but it also has implications for integration and social cohesion. Where there is widespread use of the face veil, there will be greater isolation from one another and a sense of segregation will grow.”
Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, said he ‘strongly supported’ the position taken by Bishop Nazir-Ali.
He said: ‘We need to be able to identify people in government buildings, transport centres and tourist attractions, to take three examples. Security concerns trump cultural rights.’
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