Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition on the Government’s website opposing a ban on the niqab – as a Northamptonshire MP seeks to outlaw the public wearing of face coverings.
The bill, brought by Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, will be debated in Parliament tomorrow (Friday, February 27).
Last year, Mr Hollobone, a Conservative, told the Northants Telegraph he wanted to stop people wearing any sort of face coverings, including burkas and balaclavas, in public.
“Whether it be English Defence League marchers or women in full-face burkas, society can’t function properly if people go around with facial coverings,” he said.
In Parliament he has also described the burka as “medieval, sexist and oppressive”.
Other European countries including France and Belgium have prohibited the wearing of face coverings, but the petition – which had received more than 35,000 signatures by this morning (Thursday) – said Britain should not follow suit by banning the niqab or face veil.
The petition continues: “Members of Parliament should not be debating a woman’s choice of clothing.
“The United Kingdom is a multicultural society where which welcomes diversity and people from all different ethnic, religious backgrounds.
“That is what makes us proud to be British. Respecting a law-abiding citizen’s rights, freedom and faith is not a threat to our borders nor our national security.”
Meanwhile, writing in a personal capacity on the Conservative Home website, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum Mohammed Amin criticised Mr Hollobone’s bill, saying he believed it would alienate Muslims from the Tory party.
The bill is due to have its second reading in Parliament tomorrow, although it is unlikely to become law.