British MP says he won't meet veiled Muslim women

Muslim groups have condemned Philip Hollobone, the MP from Kettering, saying he is being pedantic.

In an interview with The Independent, Hollobone said: "I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: 'no', I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter."

He went on to claim that Islamic scholars or clerics do not say that wearing the 'burka' or 'niqab' is a religious requirement. "It is not a necessity," he said.

Hollobone was in the news a fortnight ago when he moved a Private Member's Bill in Parliament to ban women wearing the 'burka' or 'niqab' in public. He hopes that other European nations would follow the example of France which this week banned the wearing of the full-face veil in public.

Shaista Gohir, executive director of the Muslim Women's Network UK, said: "He is just being pedantic and trying to fan the flames of intolerance. He would be failing in his duty as an MP."

Arzu Merali, head of research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission, argued that people should have the right to expect non-discrimination and equality.

Rajnara Akhthar, a PhD student researching Muslim communities in Britain and the law, wrote in the newspaper: "It would fuel the mounting intolerance that some Muslim communities are facing, and provide fodder for groups like the BNP (British National Party) and the English Defence League whose entire constitutions seem to be concerned with purging Britain of Muslims. Those who are seeking to propose a ban are seriously fanning the flames of extreme intolerance."


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