THE Conservative MP says he will refuse to hold meetings with Muslim women wearing full Islamic dress at his constituency surgery unless they lift their face veil.
According to this report, Muslim groups condemned Philip Hollobone and accused him of failing in his duty as an MP.
The Kettering MP said:
I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: ‘No’, I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter.
I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily, interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other’s face.
Seventy-five per cent of the usual communication between two human beings is done with personal experience. God gave us faces to be expressive. It is not just the words we utter but whether we are smiling, sad, angry or frustrated. You don’t get any of that if your face is covered.
Hollobone also railed against Turkey’s potential membership of the European Union. With David Cameron expected to visit the country this summer to endorse its attempt to join the EU, Hollobone warned that Turkish membership would be “a disaster” because EU rules allowing free movement would encourage many Turks to move to Britain.
I could anticipate hundreds of thousands, if not more than one million, Turks heading our way. I am sure that the Turkish people are lovely people, but Britain is full up. We cannot cope with another mass wave of immigration.
France is a large country, widely respected around the world. People will quite rightly sit up and take notice.
Hollobone’s Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill is due to have its second reading on December 3, but, as it lacks government backing, is likely to run out of parliamentary time. He said:
It is an issue that is not going to go away. Sadly, the House of Commons is likely to prove itself out of touch with public opinion.
He claimed that 95 per cent of the “hundreds” of letters, emails and phone calls he had received backed his measure and he had “quite a few” messages from Muslims saying they were embarrassed that women chose to cover themselves in this way.
Hollobone added that British people often say:
When in Rome, do as the Romans do â€¦ They say that when women come to this country, they ought to adapt to our way of life. The Muslim population is growing across western Europe, as is Islamic fundamentalism. It is important to stress I am a respecter of Islam as one of the world’s great religions. I also respect the right of Muslim women to protect their modesty.
Hollobone said that he objected just as strongly to men wearing a full-face balaclava in public – which will also be outlawed by his Bill.
Hollobone admitted that “freedom of choice” was the strongest argument against his proposal, but said:
It is not an issue about different modes of dress. I am not seeking in any way to restrict the right of people to wear unusual clothes, for religious or other reasons. I have got absolutely no problem with a Sikh turban, a Mohican haircut or facial piercings. You can see their face and identify them. If [they] wear a full-face burka or niqab, you cannot see their face.
Shaista Gohir, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, hit back, saying:
He is just being pedantic and trying to fan the flames of intolerance. He would be failing in his duty as an MP. If someone has made an effort to come and see him and participate in a democratic society, he should take the opportunity to engage. He might learn from the process.