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'Ban on veil damaging, will only result in the problem escalating'

Friday, July 16, 2010 06:03:13 PM, Agencies

French Dictate on Hijab - A case for Obama to prove his detractors wrong:French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in the .... Read Full

Face veil ban gets nod from the French Parliament

Paris: Muslims in France cutting across the gender lines feel offended by the decision of French MPs to ban the burka and fear that the decision would only result in creating more problems.

"The law is entirely misguided and will only result in the problem escalating", said Chairman of the Muslim Forum in Leicester Manzoor Moghal.

"However, it is a common misconception that the burka is an article of faith – it is not a requirement of Islam to wear one. You have to learn to make certain concessions in your cultural practice when you live in a community where you are not in the majority", he added.


The burka is a loose outer garment worn to hide the wearer's body while in public. It is not a requirement of the Islamic faith, but is often worn by Muslim women, some of whom see it as a religious symbol.


"Any legislation will be extremely damaging because it plays to the image of us and them. It will only harden the more extremist elements of the culture", says Parvin Ali, a Muslim chaplain and member of the National Muslim Women's Advisory Group, who lives in Leicester, does not wear a veil or head scarf.

However, Ms Ali believed there were professions and circumstances where women should not wear a burka.

She said: "Driving in a burka or operating machinery is not safe because visibility is greatly reduced.

"Those who want to work in jobs where communication really matters, such as with children or in hospital, should accept that showing your face is a part of the job."

Razia Nazir, 49, of Humberstone, works in a clothes shop selling burkas in Leicester, and has worn one since she married.

She said: "I would feel totally naked without it. I feel terribly sorry for Islamic women in France. I'd never go to France now and if someone told me to take it off, I would refuse."

Afroz Kahn, 45, of Evington, Leicester, said: "I see the burka as a mark of respect for my elders and for my religion. Every family has its own rules and traditions so to make one law for all people about something so personal is offensive."

Sarkozy said the burka represented female submission to husbands, brothers and fathers.

The bill will go to the French senate in September, where it is expected to be welcomed.

The biggest scrutiny will come from France's constitutional watchdog.

Some 336 politicians voted for President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposed ban, with just one against, which forbids women covering their faces in public in France.

Anyone seen in a burka or niqab face veil could be fined the equivalent of £117.

Men caught forcing a woman to cover their face could get a year in jail or a £25,000 fine.




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