A British government’s decision to consider whether prevent Muslim women and girls from wearing veils public places has sparked renewed outrage among the UK Muslim community.
The idea to consider the ban was first floated by Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne.
The Liberal Democrat minister claimed that imposing a ban may be necessary to ensure that girls in Muslim communities enjoy freedom of choice.
“We should be very cautious about imposing religious conformity on a society which has always valued freedom of expression,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“But there is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married,” Browne said.
“That would apply to Christian minorities in the Middle East just as much as religious minorities here in Britain,” he added.
Browne’s comments were dismissed as ‘disgusting’ by the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a group that works with young Muslims in the UK.
“This is another example of the double standards that are applied to Muslims in our country by some politicians,” Mohammed Shafiq said.
“Whatever one’s religion they should be free to practice it according to their own choices and any attempt by the government to ban Muslim women will be strongly resisted by the Muslim community”, he warned.
Earlier, a leading British college has been forced to reverse a decision on banning Muslim face-veils after thousands of people signed a petition urging the college to lift the ban.
The development came, when the Birmingham Metropolitan College announced that all students are prohibited from veils, caps, hats and hoodies while on the premises.
However, the announcement was received by angry reactions from Muslim students. They complained that the decision was discriminatory and put their personal freedoms in jeopardy.
NUS Black Students’ Campaign set up the online petition, which was signed by 9,000 students, and together with angry protests forced the college’s principal Dr Christine Braddock to remove the ban, which had been in place for eight years.
A 17-year-old girl who started the protest told the Birmingham Mail the veil ban was embarrasing.
“It upsets me that we are being discriminated against. I don’t think my niqab prevents me from studying or communicating with anyone – I’ve never had any problems in the city before,” said the teenager, who didn’t want to be named.
“They haven’t provided us with another alternative. We said we would happily show the men at security our faces so they could check them against our IDs, but they won’t let us,” said another student at the college, 17-year-old Imaani Ali.
This all comes as the guidelines from the Department for Education clearly says “under the Equality Act 2010, schools must not discriminate against, harass or victimise pupils because of their: sex; race; disability; religion or belief.”
Meanwhile, a British Prime Minister’s spokesman said last week that David Cameron would be in favor of banning Muslim veils in schools, where his own kids attend.
From among European countries, France, which is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, first took the initiative to push for such anti-Muslim laws. Now, Britain is following suit.