I was watching a BBC Panorama programme last night on Bradford – a city in north of England. This is a city that has a population that is about 2/3 white and 1/3 non-white, predominantly from Pakistan.
10 years ago Panorama did a similar programme on the city investigating how well the Muslim population had integrated and the news was not good. Ten years on the situation has become even worse, with the split between the two communities even more pronounced and each living within their own distinct parts of Bradford.
Two issues were highlighted that leant themselves to reinforcing this divide – faith schools and the burqa/niqab. The latter is shown to alienate white British because traditionally they are used to seeing women’s faces. As such, it is time political leaders in Europe took the bull by the horns and start to make these full face veils illegal in public spaces. Whereas these might be culturally acceptable in Muslim countries, they have no place in Western liberal societies and only serve to alienate Muslim communities. France, Belgium, Germany and Austria have implemented full bans and Denmark may do the same. More countries need to follow their example.
Here are some articles that examine this issue:
Burka bans: The countries where Muslim women can’t wear veils
Theresa May rules out UK burka ban as she says: ‘What a woman wears is a woman’s choice’
Denmark set to ban the burqa despite fears for religious freedom
And even in Iran nearly 50% of women are against wearing the hijab: