UK parliament debates banning the burka

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Right-wing British MPs teamed up on Friday in the British Parliament to discuss banning the public wearing of the full face veil, known as the burka, worn by some Muslim women.

The bill was one of several controversial proposals made by right-wing conservative MPs in the House of Commons on June 24, according to The Telegraph.

If passed, the Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill would place British policy on Islamic head-covers in line with France’s take on the subject, making it illegal to wear a garment with the “primary purpose to obscure the face,” according to an article by a Middle Eastern news website.

The bill proposes that “a person wearing a garment or other object intended by the wearer as its primary purpose to obscure the face in a public place shall be guilty of an offence,” according to the UK political blog, the New Statesmen.

It adds that “a person providing a public service in person to a member of the public or receiving a public service in person from a public official shall remove any garment or other object intended by the wearer as its primary purpose to obscure the face unless such garment or other object is reasonably required for reasons of health or safety.”

Exceptions to the bill include for the “purposes of art, leisure or entertainment.”

This was not the first time that such a bill was proposed in front of the House of Commons. Conservative MP Philip Hollobone previously tried to get the bill passed in 2010.

During a debate on the draft bill, he caused a stir by claiming that if a Muslim woman refused to remove her garment he would avoid a face-to-face conversation with her.

“I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter,” he is recorded as saying in the article the New Statesmen.

But it is not just Hollobone who is “anti-veil;” concerns around the burka are shared by a number of MPs across the House of Commons.

In 2006, former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw reportedly said he felt “uncomfortable” talking to constituents who wore the veil, according to the BBC.

While many Muslim women in the UK wear the Muslim head scarf, very few of them wear the full face veil.

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