Australian MPs demand Islamic headscarf ban in schools

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Australian Members of Parliament Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Panopoulos have called for a ban on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in Australian public schools, saying it is an "iconic act of defiance." They are concerned about Muslim women failing to reveal their faces in photographic identification, and claim that this could be a security risk.

Bishop and Panopoulous are both members of the Liberal Party of Australia which is the major party in the governing Coalition. Bishop said there is a clash of cultures occurring in the country: "In an ideal society you don't ban anything," she told a television interviewer. She indicated she was talking of a ban only in schools, not at home.

Australian Muslims have angrily disagreed, say they should be allowed to comply with their religious doctrine. The moves to ban the Islamic headscarf - the hijab - began in France where it is banned from government schools.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard has responded stating that he is against any ban.