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'Britain must ban burqa to beat terrorism'

Saturday, October 16, 2010 06:14:29 PM,  IANS

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London: Britain must ban the burqa if it wants to win the battle against Islamic extremism, an ally of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.

Jacques Myard, a senior ally of Sarkozy, said relaxed British policies "opened the door to terrorism", reported Saturday.

Britain is "losing the battle against Islamic extremism" by failing to follow France's ban on the burqa, he said.

Referring to Britain's continued tolerance of the burqa, he added: "Allowing women to exclude themselves from society by wearing the full Islamic veil makes radicals extremely comfortable and Britain should realise this."

Myard made his outspoken comments to British journalists in Qatar Friday, where he was defending his country's ban on the veil at the prestigious Qatar Foundation Doha Debates.

But his words will inflame tensions between the British and French governments as the inquests are held on victims of the 2005 London 7/7 bombings, which the French blamed on lax policing.

Referring to the blasts in which 52 people died and 107 were injured, Myard said: "Britain has suffered a number of high-profile failures in its fight against extremism in recent years. These could have been prevented if all signs of extremism were curbed, as they are in France."

Asked if Britain should introduce a burqa ban, Myard replied: "Of course. It is fundamental to ensuring that extremism is kept in check.

"There's a good reason why London was nicknamed Londonistan - it was full of Islamic extremists. People should be learning from these mistakes."

As chairman of the cross-party commission which spent two years probing burqas and niqabs in France, Myard's recommendations led to a full ban being passed by the French parliament earlier this month.

The ruling has led to terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, issuing threats against France, but the country has largely escaped the kind of extremism which has affected Britain over the past decade.

Myard joked: "The French have been standing up for gender equality since Joan of Arc fought the English barbarians 600 years ago.

"Women should not have to wear the burqa, which by its very nature excludes them from France's secular republic."

About 350 million people in 200 countries are expected to watch the debate when it is broadcast by channels including BBC World this weekend.

The row over burqas in Britain has gathered momentum since the French ban.

Tory MP Philip Hollobone, who has tabled a Private Member's Bill proposing a ban, said: "The majority of people in Britain don't agree that anybody should be able to cover their face in public but the politicians are frightened of offending minority groups. We just don't have the political guts.

"The burqa stops women integrating... It is not a religious garment and is out­lawed in ­several Islamic countries."





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