MP proposes law to ban wearing burkas and balaclavas

Wearing burkas prevents integration, Philip Hollobone argues

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A Conservative MP is attempting to pass a law which would ban people from wearing burkas and balaclavas.

Philip Hollobone has put forward parliamentary legislation to regulate the use of "certain facial coverings" in public.

The Kettering MP said this "would obviously have a big impact for those who wear full-face Islamic veils".

He has previously described the burka as "against the British way of life".

The backbench MP was one of 20 drawn in a ballot for the chance to get a Private Members' Bill on the statute book.

'Inappropriate'

His Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill had its first reading in the Commons, a formality which allows the legislation to be printed.

But, because Mr Hollobone was only drawn 17th in the ballot, it stands little chance of progress.

Explaining the bill, Mr Hollobone said: "I think it's inappropriate to cover your face in public, whether it's a burka, a balaclava or anything else.

"We are never going to get along with having a fully integrated society if a substantial minority insist on concealing their identity from everyone else."

Mr Hollobone has previously described the burka, which covers the entire head, as "offensive" and "against the British way of life", saying that wearing one was the religious equivalent of "going round with a paper bag over your head".

His comments have attracted criticism but also a "great deal of support", he said.

In 2006, cabinet minister Jack Straw angered Muslim groups after he said face veils were a "visible statement of separation and of difference" and suggested they could make community relations harder.

The UK Independence Party has, like Mr Hollobone, called for a ban.

But opponents of such a move say it is not up to right to prohibit in law the wearing of any type of garment.

In France, the government is pushing for a ban of the wearing in public of full-face veils, including the niqab, which can leave the area around the eyes visible.

It argues that Muslim women who fully cover their heads and faces are mounting an "unacceptable" challenge to the country's values.

The lower house of Belgium's parliament has passed a bill to ban clothing that hides a person's identity in public places, but this still needs approval in the Senate.

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