Kettering MP says burka ‘isolates women from society’

Philip Hollobone
Philip Hollobone

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone has led a Parliamentary debate calling for a public ban on full-face coverings such as burkas and balaclavas.

The Conservative MP presented his bill in the House of Commons this afternoon (Friday, February 28).

He said it was designed to allow shop keepers, garage owners and bank staff to see the faces of everyone they served.

“I think there’s a lot of difficulty with this issue,” he said. “There’s a worry that somehow, if you require a veiled woman to remove their facial covering, you might somehow be in breach of some race relations or equalities law.

“Would it be acceptable for police officers to wear a police officer to wear a full-face veil? I think that would alarm members of the public.”

He also rejected suggestions the bill would affect the religious freedom of Muslim women, saying: “It’s not a religious requirement in Islam to cover your face.”

He added: “Unless we do something about this what we are going to see is an increasing number of people, mainly women, who are going to find themselves isolated from the British way of life.”

But other MPs have expressed their opposition to Mr Hollobone’s bill.

Keith Vaz, a Leicester Labour MP, said the bill was contradictory to what he had thought was Mr Hollobone’s opposition to the state imposing laws on its citizens.

Lyn Brown MP added: “I think there’s a very fine line between demanding facial recognition and a big brother society.

“The state should not seek to legislate against its own people.”

A petition opposing a ban on face coverings has also been launched.