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By Grace Carr
One of Britain’s leading female Muslim politicians, Sayeeda Warsi, remarked Monday that she hopes Islamic face veils will disappear from Britain within the next 20 years.
Lawyer and member of the House of Lords, Warsi said she did not want the niqab to be banned by a decree but encourages “British Muslims to lead the charge”.
Warsi, a Conservative, has previously defended the wearing of the full-face veil, but said Monday at the Hay Festival that she did not “know what its purpose is in terms of British Islam.”
She made clear that wearing the veil is not a “British manifestation,” adding that its use can be understood historically because “if you were running through the desert it was good because you didn’t get sand in your face.”
Wearing full face veils harms the British community according to Warsi, and is “not the best manifestation of British Islam.” She added, “I sincerely hope we’re heading in that direction where [veils] won’t be … part of the landscape.”
Warsi’s sentiments have previously been voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel, who told her party members on Dec 6, 2016 that Germany should ban full-face veils “wherever legally possible” and that it would not tolerate any application of Sharia law over German justice.
Merkel told party members “full veiling is not appropriate here” and “from [her] standpoint, a fully veiled woman scarcely has a chance at full integration in Germany.”
Leading Muslim physician, author and newspaper columnist, Qanta Ahmed said that “as a Muslim, I strongly support the right to ban the veil,” in a March 18 article published in The Spectator.
She cited the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that has ruled employers have the right to stop employees wearing visible religious symbols, including headscarves worn in the name of Islam. The ruling states, however, that if the company allows religious symbols it cannot prohibit headscarves.
Muslims thrive on being “a society-within-a-society,” Ahmed said. So she heavily supports the ECJ’s secularist move to “restore secular liberal democracy, where the public space is shared by everyone.”