Blair Mulls Face-veil Ban

Tony Blair is mulling banning the face-veil (niqab) in public, a move seen by a British Muslim leader as an attempt to divert attention from the problems the embattled premier is facing at home.

Blair Mulls Face-veil Ban

Blair has held secret talks on the possibility of banning the veil in public institutions such as schools, courts and hospitals, the Daily Mirror reported on Thursday, November 30.

Leaked documents seen by the Mirror indicate the prime minister has also met with British Muslim leaders over the issue.

The issue of the veil was thrust into the spotlight last month after former foreign secretary and incumbent leader of the House of Common Jack Straw revealed asking Muslim women visiting his constituency office to show their faces.

Backing Straw, Blair said the veil row was part of a necessary debate about the way British Muslims, estimated at nearly 1.8 million, integrates into society.

He said the veil was a "mark of separation" which makes people of other ethnic backgrounds feel uncomfortable.

A BBC survey on Wednesday, November 29, showed that 33 percent of the 1,004 people polled would approve of a blanket ban on the veil.

Asked if they would support prohibition in certain circumstances, 61 percent said they would back a ban in airports and at passport control, 53 percent in courtrooms and 53 percent in classrooms.

Aishah Azmi, a 24-year-old Muslim teacher in Headfield Church of England junior school in Dewsbury, has been sacked over her veil.

The young woman had expressed willingness to remove her veil in front of children - but not when male colleagues were present.


The veil ban report drew immediate fire.

"It is an effort to divert attention away from domestic issues to the Muslim wearing of hijab and niqab," Kamal al-Helbawy, a British Muslim leader, told over the phone from London.

Helbawy confirmed that Blair held meetings with Muslim community leader over the issue.

He said that representatives from the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and other Muslim institutions were involved.

Several attempts to reach a MCB spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.

Helbawy asserted that only a handful of British Muslim women wear the face-veil.

"They make up only between 2-5 percent of British Muslim women," he said, describing the niqab unnecessary for Muslim women in Britain.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

As for the face veil, the majority of Muslim scholars believe that a woman is not obliged to cover her face or hands.

"However, it is their right to wear whatever they want as long as it is not against the law," insisted the Muslim leader.

"Blair's move is a prelude to draft a regulation to ban niqab which will bring turmoil into society."

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that a British ban on the veil and other religious insignia would be "politically dangerous".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16