Australian politician proposes burqa ban


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The burqa covers a woman’s entire body and has a mesh covering over the eyes for the woman to see out of. It is often confused with the niqab, which covers everything except the eyes. Niqab wearers would also be affected by the ban.

Anthony Popenoe

Australian legislator Jacqui Lambie has proposed a law to outlaw burqa wearing. The law would impose fines on people wearing Islamic face coverings in public due to public security concerns reports ‘Russia Today’.

“Any person who is deemed by a police officer to have worn any identity concealing garments in public unlawfully, will be issued with an on-the-spot fine or charged with an offence which carries a maximum fine of $A3,400,” Lambie said during Parliamentary proceedings according to ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ .

The law would also impose a $34,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail for anyone compelling an adult to wear a face covering. Forcing a child would result in double the fine and double the jail time. Anti-burqa sentiments have been on the rise in Australian politics. In early October, a law was proposed which would segregate women in face coverings from the general public in Parliament. Prime Minister Tony Abbott even spoke out publicly against the garment.

“I have said before that I find it a fairly confronting form of attire,” Abbott said in a press conference. “Frankly, I wish it was not worn but we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of government to tell people what they should and shouldn’t wear,”

Like similar burqa bans in other countries, the proposed law has received a fair amount of push back. It has been cited as being discriminatory and a violation of freedom of religion.

“It isolates women ever further. It’s a clear message that women in society are targeted, and Muslim women more so,” chief executive of the Arab Council of Australia Randa Kattan said in ‘The Guardian’. “We’re all for national security, we all want to feel protected, but it’s coming at the expense of innocent people.”

Several European countries have already passed similar legislation. It is unlikely that the US will see such a law.

“It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear,” President Barack Obama said at a speech in Cairo according to ‘The New York Times.’