23rd June 2009
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) criticised French President Nicholas Sarkozy's intention to ban the wearing of Burqa - a garment worn by a minority of Muslim women in accordance with their religious belief. Reiterating its long established position that individuals must have the freedom to choose their attire on the basis of deeply-held religious beliefs, the MCB called upon the French President to desist from engaging in and promoting divisive politics towards its Muslim inhabitants. In this respect, the MCB echoes the US President Barack Obama's caution that 'it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.'
Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, Dr. Reefat Drabu said: "It is patronising and offensive to suggest that those Muslim women who wear the burqa do so because of pressure or oppression by their male partners or guardians". She added: "Such suggestions can legitimately be perceived as antagonistic towards Islam. Instead of taking a lead in promoting harmony and social cohesion amongst its people, the French President appears to be initiating a policy which is set to create fear and misunderstanding and may lead to Islamophobic reaction not just in France but in the rest of Europe too".
The Muslim Council of Britain is an umbrella group of over 500 Muslim organisations - mosques, charities, community groups.
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
London, E1 2WJ
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079