Friday, October 06, 2006

Jack Straw complains about the niqab.

UK: What is going on in the UK, not a whole lot of political correctness going on in the last couple of weeks.

".....But his comments surprised British Muslim leaders and fellow Labour MPs, who pointed to a series of statements from ministers which have challenged attitudes towards multiculturalism. At the launch of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, Ruth Kelly, the communities secretary, questioned whether multiculturalism was now encouraging segregation. At the Labour conference last week John Reid insisted Britain would not be bullied by Muslim fanatics, and he would not tolerate "no-go" neighbourhoods. He had already been criticised after telling Muslim parents in east London that fanatics were "looking to groom and brainwash your children for suicide bombing". Muslim leaders accused the government of destabilising already precarious community relations, which have been buffeted by clashes this week between white and Muslim youths in Berkshire. Scotland Yard's withdrawal of a Muslim officer from duty at the Israeli embassy is now the subject of an inquiry ordered by the Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair. Reefat Bravu, chair of the Muslim Council for Britain's social and family affairs committee, said yesterday that Mr Straw's comments had exacerbated existing tensions. "We had John Reid first and now we have Jack Straw ... This is going to do great damage to the Muslim community, again we are being singled out by this government as the problem. Women have a right to wear a veil and this is just another example of blatant Muslim-bashing by this government." Mussoud Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said he found Mr Straw's comments distasteful. "Would he say to the Jewish people living in Stamford Hill [in London] that they shouldn't dress like Orthodox Jews?" Mr Straw, who made the comments in the Lancashire Telegraph, said he had asked women wearing the niqab to remove it when they visited his constituency surgery because face-to-face conversations were of "greater value". Recalling a conversation with one women, he wrote: "I said I would reflect on what the lady had said to me. Would she, however, think hard about what I said - in particular about my concern that wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult."

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