To BAN or NOT TO BAN the Burka?

Two British Muslim women sound off.

THE burka is never far from controversy, and now the French are planning to impose £700 fines for wearing the Islamic clothing in public. A vote on the bill is due later this month.Today, we ask two Muslim women to give their points of view.

YES! Says TV’s The Apprentice first runner-up SAIRA KHAN

IN the mainly Muslim enclaves of Derby, near my childhood home, you now see women hidden behind the full-length (burka) robe, their faces completely shielded from view. In London, I see an increasing number of young girls, aged four and five, being made to wear the hijab (head covering) to school.

Thanks to fundamentalist Muslims and “hate” preachers working in Britain, the veiling of women is suddenly all-pervasive and promoted as a basic religious right. We are led to believe we must live with this in the name of “tolerance”.

And yet, as a British Muslim woman, I abhor the practice and am calling on the Government here to follow the lead of the French proposal and ban the burka in Britain. I believe the covering of one’s face in public is dangerous and, for security reasons, should be banned from British streets. Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a woman’s face and body must be covered in a layer of heavy black cloth. Instead, Muslim women should dress modestly, covering their arms and legs.

The burka is an imported Saudi Arabian tradition and the growing number of women veiling their faces in Britain is a sign of a creeping radicalisation which is not just regressive but oppressive and dangerous.

So what should we do in Britain? For decades, Muslim fundamentalists, using human-rights laws, have been allowed to get their own way. It is now time for ministers and ordinary British Muslims to say enough is enough. For the sake of women and children, the Government here must ban the burka in public places. To do so is not racist, as extremists would have us believe, it is common sense.

In today’s society. where we are threatened with terrorist acts, we should demand to see people’s faces in public – so that we do not feel scared or frightened. It will only be a matter of time before extremists use the wearing of the burka to breach security and carry out attacks on innocent people.

NO! Says writer ANILA BAIG

EUROPE seems to be in the grip of anti-Islamic hysteria.  (Heh!) Switzerland banned the building of minarets and now Muslim women in France could be fined £700 for wearing the burka. Some, no doubt, will wish the same could be done here.

I’m a British-born Muslim but understand how the burka ruffles feathers. My mother’s generation wore slacks and smock tops when they came to this country, shedding their traditional salwar kameez in a bid to fit in. She even wore Western clothes in Pakistan but now you see swathes of Muslim women in Britain covered from head to toe.

I don’t understand those who choose to wear the burka. To me it represents a medieval, narrow-minded and harsh side of Islam. The problem is, I know women who choose to wear it and they are not medieval, narrow-minded or harsh. They are often intelligent, articulate and passionately believe they are serving God. They certainly don’t care what French president Nicolas Sarkozy thinks. And I am not happy about a government telling women what they can and can’t wear. It is simply wrong to ban it.

If women can choose to wear as little as they like, it is UNACCEPTABLE that they can’t wear as much as they like too. (If women don’t like it, they can choose to live in a country where the burka is accepted)

If the West wants to see fewer women in the orthodox garment, it would be better if the message came from a respected Imam rather than a secular president with a clothes-horse wife.

I really hope some don’t use this news as a stick with which to beat burka-clad women. We should have far more tolerance and realise that, underneath the burka, is a human being. (Why? Muslims aren’t tolerant of anything) But Muslims need to realise that we can practise our faith without going to extremes.

I am sure it will be some time before Muslim women in Britain take off their burkas but maybe us Muslims should make more effort to show the human face of our religion. (Indeed!) UK SUN

Don’t ban the burka, BAN MUSLIMS!