Banning the wearing of burkas in public would be "rather un-British", Damian Green, the immigration minister, said yesterday, arguing it would be at odds with the UK's "tolerant and mutually respectful society".
"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 told the Sunday Telegraph. Although he said there are occasions when it is important to be able to see someone's face, he maintained: "It would be undesirable for the British Parliament to try to pass a law dictating what people wore." Unlike France, where public burka-wearing has been banned, the UK is not "aggressively secular", he said.
A fellow Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, has introduced a Private Members' Bill which would make it illegal for people to cover their faces in public. More than two-thirds of voters back such a ban, according to a recent poll, but Mr Green said a ban is "unlikely" to be adopted.
Mr Hollobone told The Independent that he would not meet with burka or niqab-clad women at his Kettering constituency surgeries unless they lifted their veils. "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," he said.Reuse content