One Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, is hoping that Britain will follow Belgium by introducing a repressive ban on the niqab and the burqa. He will present his Private Member’s Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill in the House of Commons today. The parliament website describes it as:
A Bill to regulate the wearing of certain face coverings; and for connected purposes.
The bill would introduce a ban on people wearing burqas (and balaclavas) in public. Hollobone has previously made his support for a full ban clear. During a Commons debate on International Women’s Day he said:
The phrase that has been given to me time and again is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This is Britain; we are not a Muslim country. Covering one’s face in public is strange, and to many people it is intimidating and offensive. I seriously think that a ban on wearing the niqab or the burqa in public should be considered.
Like other supporters of an illiberal ban, Hollobone has yet to provide a convincing answer to the point that those who complain that Islamist men tell women how to dress are doing precisely the same thing by calling for a ban. On matters of sexual equality, Muslim women would be better served by the enforcement of existing laws against domestic violence than by the enactment of new laws restricting their dress.
For a detailed discussion of Europe’s war on the veil, see my colleague Mehdi Hasan’s recent New Statesman cover story on the subject.