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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rushdie Says Veil 'Sucks'

Updated: 21:03, Tuesday October 10, 2006

Author Salman Rushdie has risked angering Muslims once again after saying face veils for women "suck".

The writer - once the subject of a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeni over his novel The Satanic Verses - said he regarded the veil as a way of taking power away from women.

He backed Leader of the Commons Jack Straw, who provoked a furious response last week when he urged Muslim women to abandon the veil.

"He was expressing an important opinion which is that veils suck - which they do," Mr Rushdie told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Speaking as somebody with three sisters and a very largely female Muslim family, there is not a single woman I know in my family or in their friends who would have accepted the wearing of a veil.

"The battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women so, in that sense, I am completely on his side.

"I think the veil is a way of taking power away from women."

Mr Straw, MP for Blackburn, described the veil as a "visible statement of separation" which impeded good community relations.

He said he asked Muslim women to remove it so he could see their facial expressions.

Inayat Bunglawala, of The Muslim Council of Britain said it was inevitable that Mr Straw's comments would be seized on by extremists and bigots.

He said: "It is important to point out that if women are wearing the veil out of their own choice, then that choice ought to be respected."

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