David Cameron has backed rules that would allow public officials to ban women from wearing full face veils in certain venues where identity and personal recognition are important.
“Proper and sensible,” says the prime minister regarding a proposal that would see Muslim women remove face veils in schools, courts and other institutional venues.
While there are existing measures in place to identify veiled women at the border – such as having them go to a private room with a female official – the face covering did become an issue in a court case in 2013 when defendant Rebekah Dawson refused to remove her veil in order to give evidence in her case.
The proposal comes at a time when the government is looking to combat Islamic extremism and recruitment by Islamic State. “I think in our country people should be free to wear what they like, within the limits of how they like, and all the rest of it,” Mr. Cameron said.
The prime minister put the ban in perspective, saying: “What does matter is if, for instance, a school has a uniform policy, sensitively put in place and all the rest of it, and people want to flout that uniform policy, often for reasons that aren’t connected to religion, you should always come down on the side of the school.
“When you are coming into contact with an institution or you’re in court, or if you need to be able to see someone’s face at the border, then I will always back the authority and institution that have put in place proper and sensible rules.
“Going for the more sort of French approach of banning an item of clothing, I don’t think that’s the way we do things in this country and I don’t think that would help.”
The French government banned the full face veil in 2010. The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban in 2014 when a 24-year-old French woman brought the case before the court. The court justified the ban by the French authorities stating that it upheld the interests of social cohesion.
Tens of thousands of Muslim women will also face deportation unless they are able to pass English language compentency tests designed to cut down on the amount of migrants coming to the UK on spousal visas, No.10 announced.
A number of other measures are to be revealed to combat Islamic extremism in coming weeks. These measures are thought to be geared toward stopping the growing radicalization of British muslims who may seek to emulate men like “Jihadi John” or girls like Austrian Samra Kesinovic who was used as a sex slave by the Islamic State and later killed.
There has been vocal opposition to Mr. Cameron in the form of Naz Shah MP for Bradford West who participated in the debate to ban US presidential candidate Donald Trump from the UK and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham who said the prime minister was “stigmatizing a whole community.”
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone came out in full support of Mr. Cameron push to ban veils saying, “I don’t want to live in a country where a police officer is veiled, where a news reader is veiled, where a nurse or doctor is veiled.” Hollobone attempted to use a private member’s bill in the last Parliament to ban the full-face veil.