Jack Straw, Leader of the British House of Commons urges Muslim women to drop full veil

Friday, October 6, 2006

Women in Turkey wearing the niqab.

The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, Leader of the British House of Commons, has urged Muslim women not to wear the full veil or Niqab. Initially, he said that, when meeting his constituents, he found it difficult to talk to anyone wearing a full veil because the expression on the face conveyed much of what a speaker meant. Later, he expanded his opinion saying that the wearing of the veil at any time tended to promote separation of peoples and the "formation of parallel communities".

A 10 Downing Street statement said that this view was Straw's personal opinion and not an expression of the government's policy.

Straw's remarks have elicited a range of responses from members of the Muslim community in the UK. While Daud Abdullah, from the Muslim Council of Britain, said that the choice of wearing a veil was up to individual women, Muslim Association of Britain said that Straw and the Conservative leader David Cameron, who expressed a similar view, were pandering to the "right-wing media". The British public appear to support his view with a number of media polls showing a vast majority in agreement. A telephone poll by the BBC also showed overwhelming public sympathy, with 93 per cent supporting his views.