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British minister terms burqa ban un-British

world Updated: Jul 18, 2010 19:42 IST

IANS
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Banning the burqa, the Islamic full-body veil for women, will be "un-British" and contrary to a "tolerant and mutually respectful society", Britain's Immigration Minister Damian Green has said.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, Green said it would be "undesirable" for the British parliament to vote on a burqa ban and that there was no prospect of the ruling coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron proposing it.

His comments came after a YouGov survey last week found that 67 percent of voters wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be made illegal in the country.

Green's decision to rule out a burqa ban will disappoint some right-of-centre Tory MPs, including Philip Hollobone, who has tabled a private member's bill that would make it illegal for anyone to cover their face in public.

Hollobone said that he would refuse to hold any constituency meetings with women wearing burqas.

The United Kingdom Independence Party has also supported calls for a ban after last week's vote by French parliamentarians to outlaw full-face veils in public.

Green, however, said he did not think that the French vote for a ban would have an impact on immigration into Britain.

"I stand personally on the feeling that telling people what they can and can't wear, if they're just walking down the street, is a rather un-British thing to do," he said. "We're a tolerant and mutually respectful society.

"There are times, clearly, when you’ve got to be able to identify yourself, and people have got to be able to see your face, but I think it's very unlikely and it would be undesirable for the British parliament to try and pass a law dictating what people wore.

"I think very few women in France actually wear the burqa. They (the French parliament) are doing it for demonstration effects.

"The French political culture is very different. They are an aggressively secular state. They can ban the burqa, they ban crucifixes in schools and things like that.

"We have schools run explicitly by religions. I think there's absolutely no read-across to immigration policy from what the French are doing about the burqa".

Green's comments came after the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told The Sunday Telegraph that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims.

Farooq Murad said that any moves to restrict the expression of Islam by banning the veil or blocking the building of minarets would alienate the Muslim community and threaten social cohesion.

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