Home Breaking News Brave Bishop calls for burka ban: Pakistani-born Church of England cleric speaks...

Brave Bishop calls for burka ban: Pakistani-born Church of England cleric speaks out!

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The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II after a church service at St Peter's Church, Wolferton, Norfolk Sunday January 20 2002, where Princess Beatrice sang in the choir. The Duke and Duchess of York's 13-year-old daughter was one of 24 members of the all-girl choir of St George's School, Ascot which sang three pieces of work with a New Year theme during the 45-minute service. The Bishop, a contender to succeed Dr George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury, preached the sermon at the service. See PA story ROYAL Beatrice. PA Photo: Sean Dempsey

At last! A sign of life and commonsense in the Church of England! A senior C of E bishop last night called for a near-total ban on the wearing of burkas in public.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, GP surgeries, universities and schools.

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The cleric said a ban should also extend to areas where there were legitimate security and safety concerns, such as at airports or while driving a car. However, he said it was acceptable for women to wear face veils at home, while in the street and at prayer.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed

Furthermore, the call from the Pakistani-born bishop, who led the Diocese of Rochester between 1994 and 2009, drew support last night from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey said ‘oppressive’ veils should not become ‘normalised’.

Their comments represent the most powerful intervention to date by senior clerics on the issue. They will add to the fierce debate sparked last week when former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote a newspaper article on why he opposed a ban on veils in public but compared women in burkas to ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.

Bishop Nazir-Ali told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burka and making an effective getaway.

‘For reasons of national security, there will be places like Parliament or Whitehall or town halls and council chambers where the burka should not be allowed.’

He said institutions including universities and schools were justified in wanting to know the identities of visitors or those who worked or studied there.

Staff at airports and courts also needed to see people’s faces.

Perhaps more controversially, he added: ‘Many professions require personal interaction with the client. In business, both the trader and the customer should be able to see one another’s face and to interpret expressions if the transaction is to be mutually beneficial. This is even more true of doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics.’

The bishop said said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, GP surgeries, universities and schools. Stock image

Warning of the threat posed by the wearing of veils, he said: ‘It is true that some women choose to wear the burka or niqab because they feel it makes them more observant Muslims…

‘It is also true, however, that the burka or niqab is being weaponised by Islamists to impose what they consider to be “Islamic” character on communities, neighbourhoods and even nations.

‘In Britain, this has serious implications for the freedom of women, but it also has implications for integration and social cohesion. Where there is widespread use of the face veil, there will be greater isolation from one another and a sense of segregation will grow.’

Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, said he ‘strongly supported’ the position taken by Bishop Nazir-Ali.

He said: ‘We need to be able to identify people in government buildings, transport centres and tourist attractions, to take three examples. Security concerns trump cultural rights.’

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