Coffee House

Sir Gerald Howarth asks Theresa May to ban the burka so it can’t be used as a disguise

4 November 2013

4:20 PM

4 November 2013

4:20 PM

When the Prime Minister’s spokesman said this morning that ‘we will look at whether there are lessons that we can learn from’ the disappearance of Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed, what he probably didn’t mean was that the Home Office should consider banning all things that can be worn as disguises. Sir Gerald Howarth clearly did, telling the Commons this afternoon that the Home Secretary should ban the burka partly because it had enabled this suspect to disappear. He said:

‘Can I commend my right honourable friend’s approach and can I urge her to go further in her robustness, to scrap the Labour-introduced Human Rights Act and while she’s at it, can she follow the advice of our right honourable friend, the member for Rushcliffe, and have the burka banned in this country because it is alien to our culture, and has enabled this man to abscond.’

May used her answer mainly to remind the House that the Conservatives would go into the 2015 election promising to scrap the Human Rights Act, which Chris Grayling looked very happy about as he sat next to her. But she also insisted that she believed it was the right of a woman to decide how to dress.

What she didn’t say, because she was being polite, although there was a smile on her face as she got up, was that Howarth was trying to suggest that because the burka had been used as a disguise, it should be banned. Should fancy dress costumes also be regulated by the same reasoning? Or beards, which according to this photo gallery are pretty handy if you’re on the run? Mind you, Rod Liddle found the burka did the opposite for him: his Spectator column this week details what happened when he donned one in Canterbury.

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Show comments
  • Sun

    People who don’t ban the burka or are for it under the false pretense of “freedom to do whatever one’s like” are traitors. No you don’t have the right to do whatever you like. UK has thousands-of-years history that organically evolved to what we have now. Islam isn’t part of that. There are many countries where Islamic lifestyles like wearing the burka is accepted, demanded, or encouraged. Choose one.

  • Bonkim

    No Brainer – Many criminals have used the Burkha for committing crimes. Many types of hoodies, head-gear and helmets that cover the face are banned in banks, post offices, and other public places – so no need to be over-sensitive about banning Muslims or others wearing full body and face coverings that can hide a person’s face and gender identity.

  • Wilky1

    If the Islamic community want to carry on wearing the Burkha – without being searched every time they go out in one, then surely they have to stop terrorists or other dubious characters escaping & evading capture by wearing them.

    We have to make a stand and tell them – 1 more incident and we will bring forth legislation to ban the Burkha in public places along with the Niqab!

    These forms of Islamic dress are nothing more than religious affectations (much like a catholic wearing a cross) and not a requirement of their faith. If they want to carry on wearing them in the west, they are going to have to stop this!

    If a court can say that a catholic can be told to remove a cross at work, then surely the Muslim community can be told they cannot wear these affectations!

  • aurila

    the only rational reason for Theresa May not to ban the burkha, is because she wants to help the terrorists

  • Erictheowl

    Do we have to wait until some bloke in a burkha blows himself up in a busy shopping centre during the school holidays before anyone will face up to this idiotic problem?

    The burkha is devisive, insulting and utter nonsense, unless you are likely to get caught in a sandstorm – not a lot of those in Tower Hamlets, even with the much-vaunted global warming. Moslem women in are not permitted to undertake their prayers with their face covered, so why should it be permitted in public places in any country, let alone a non-Islamic one?

    This is not an issue of banning fancy dress, but one of discrimination – men are not allowed to cover their faces in public, and neither should women be.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      Is there not also a form sexual apartheid in many mosques with women obliged to pray in separate areas or even rooms from their menfolk? If so how does the minister square that sort of discrimination in the human rights paradise of PC Britain?

      • Suada

        Isn’t it the same in Jewish Orthodox synagogues (and in some churches as well)?

        • FrenchNewsonlin

          No idea. But the same question would apply if that is the case.

      • dave

        Is there not also a form of sexual apartheid in many churches with women obliged to remain as priests and not progress to be Bishops as men can? If so how does the minister square that sort of discrimination in the human rights paradise of PC Britain?

        • FrenchNewsonlin

          Personally never noticed men and women sitting on separate benches or in distinctly divided sections of any Christian church, but then your comments around these parts seem to suggest you are a keen apologist for the RoP.

          • dave

            Obviously haven’t found a church with male and female toilets.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Absolutely absurd piece of discrimination. Let’s ban those fancy hats with veils that women wear on Ladies day at Ascot too shall we? Off course Halloween masks are a definite no no. How about Balaclava’s and other Ski wear? Should we ban that too? What about sunglasses and Fedora hats too?

    There is a point when the crassness of politicians is such that you do question whether there is any value in having a Parliament.

    • Alexsandr

      you are right. we should have a referendum on burquas and niquabs.

      • Russell

        And the building of Mosques in predominantly Christian areas (surely that is provoking unrest and against the human rights of Christians)

        • Randy McDonald

          Why?

        • dave

          And the building of Churches in predominantly Islamic areas (surely that is provoking unrest and against the human rights of Muslins)

          • Russell

            I have never heard of Muslins before, but Muslims can go to a Muslim country if they want to wear burkhas and masks and visit numerous Mosques, and have Sharia law. This is a Christian country and I want it to remain one along with many millions of others.

            • dave

              We have to be conscious that the British nation colonialised most of the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan & India, Singapore, even parts of China. We had no hesitation in building gothic churches all over the world in these places where Christianity was not the main religion of the native populations. In commenting about Muslims in Britain, mosques, burkas etc. we all need to keep a sense of historical perspective – did we respect the traditions and cultures of countries we invaded?

          • Sun

            Um, no. Islam is not a Western religion.

            I’m no Christian but even I recognize the native religions (including pegan religions) that is part of British/English history.

            I don’t believe Christianity should make laws (like some theocracy) but I do recognize, from a cultural standpoint its impact on society.

      • dave

        And why not nuns habits, and the wearing of beards which could be worn to do a bombing and then shaved off to prevent identification, and people wearing helmets and goggles in the street. We don’t want anyone slipping past CCTV cameras unrecognised do we.

        • Alexsandr

          nuns habits don’t cover their face. nor does facial hair. You can still see the face shape, nose, etc.

          think you are clutching at straws here.

          • dave

            Not from the back or sides – the angles that CCTVs often have to rely on.

        • Pootles

          I’ve said this above, but it is worth saying again:

          The thing is, we do have a well established precedent for preventing people wearing what they want in public (and I don’t mean medieval clothing laws). The precedent is the 1936 Public Order Act, the relevant sections relating to clothing, being renewed by the 1986 Public Order Act. Prior to the 1936 Act, some communists, fascists, Zionists, and the Social Credit Party (who were no conceivable threat to anyone at all) all wore coloured shirts and/or uniforms. Banned. Still banned. One could argue that it is ‘the British way’.

          • dave

            Interesting. But who exactly is banned – anyone wearing a uniform – or perhaps a football shirt?

            • Pootles

              The ban covers the wearing of anything that might be considered to be a political uniform. That could be an item as small as an armband. A football shirt would not, I suppose, be counted, because that would not be taken as being primarily political. Interestingly, there are examples of the ban not being enforced – for example, Welsh nationalists have paraded in (IRA style) uniforms and not been arrested. However, perhaps it was deemed that the intelligence gathered on Welsh nationalist activists was of more use. The main point is, of course, that banning the wearing of items of clothing is already part of our legal framework – it is not new, not inherently ‘un-British’.

              • dave

                Pootles – there are those who would consider a business suit and tie to be a political uniform.
                And more recently after plebgate there are now many who would regard Police Uniform to be a political uniform ie: anti Theresa May and Anti-Conservative.
                Be interesting if the police had to arrest all their own number for marching in a political cause whilst wearing a uniform?

                • Pootles

                  Indeed. That was exactly the point made by fascists in 1937 – specifically, as Tories (in those days) turned up to their conferences wearing bowler hats and three piece suits, didn’t that make that get up the Tory ‘uniform’ ? The courts didn’t think so. But, again, the 1936 and 1986 Pubic Order Acts do give a strong precedent for banning people from wearing items of cothing

                • dave

                  ..but not from wearing no items of clothing? Your Pubic (sic) Order Act would seem appropriate to this.

                • Pootles

                  Arf ! Arf! (old git’s version of LOL). No good though – look at that poor chap ‘the naked rambler’ – he’s never out of gaol for more than a few days.

    • Mark Frost

      people don’t walk about in public wearing ski masks, halloween costumes on a daily basis, posing threats to national security. Here’s one for you, Smithers, would you feel comfortable with a person getting off a plane, wearing a clown mask and walking through customs claiming ‘it’s his human right’ to wear it. Maybe i’ll set up my own clown religion so i can freely walk about with a mask on and not be bothered by the spineless liberal elite who are systematically destroying the foundations of this once great country.

      • dave

        So no more Father Christmas outfits either in which only the eyes are seen?

        • Mark Frost

          To be honest Dave i bet you’d love nothing more than Christmas to be wiped out, the exact thing the people you admire are looking to do every year

          • dave

            Not sure exactly what people I have claimed to admire but really would not mind Christmas returning to a religious festival rather than an opportunity for commercial exploitation.
            I am as against people pretending to be Father Christmas as I am against people pretending to be Jesus Christ. Bah humbug.

    • Pootles

      The thing is, we do have a well established precedent for preventing people wearing what they want in public (and I don’t mean medieval clothing laws). The precedent is the 1936 Public Order Act, the relevant sections relating to clothing, being renewed by the 1986 Public Order Act. Prior to the 1936 Act, some communists, fascists, Zionists, and the Social Credit Party (who were no conceivable threat to anyone at all) all wore coloured shirts and/or uniforms. Banned. Still banned. One could argue that it is ‘the British way’.

    • Sun

      If anything we should ban those far left people who created this mess to begin with…

      The rest of your argument conflating Halloween and ski wear, etc, shows that you shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I’m sure you think wearing a motorcycle helmet is the same as wearing a burka as well.

  • swatnan

    Its not just that terrorists get away scot free in the disguise, but more important, the burka demeans women and defies all logic and commonsense. The only way is to ban it by legislation, along with some other unsavoury practices, and drag Islam kicking and screaming into the C21. I am getting sick and tired of those so called ‘liberals’ who are too scared to speak out against it. No more excuses please.

    • Daniel Maris

      It also demeans men because it implies one (if one is a man) would be unable to control one’s lust on seeing a human female lust…

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        …which just about sums up the intellectual level of the debate the preachers and proselytizers of that ideology work at. Yet the West continues to pander and meekly bend to this priapic cult? Truly gutless and barbaric.

    • dave

      “the burka demeans women and defies all logic and commonsense.”

      So heavy facial make-up and totally impractical footwear does not demean women or defy all logic and commonsense (nb: men in general are much too sensible to succumb to either)
      The trouble is you are looking at the problem from your own narrow cultural viewpoint – if you were an alien from another planet the burka would look no more ridiculous than what regularly passes for fashion in the west. What is more stupid – the burka on the one hand
      or six inch heels, false eyelashes, painting red rings around your mouth (which you eat with), or putting glitter and various colourants in very close proximity to the eyes?
      The only common denominator is free choice to make your own silly decisions.

      • Sun

        Anyone who conflates makeup, high heels, etc, to the burka is an idiot in my book.

        “Free choice” is the reason why we’re in this mess to begin with. You hide under that idea as you gleefully watch the country change beyond recognition.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    The EDL missed a trick. They could have circumvented their ban from walking the streets of Tower Hamletstan by doing it in burkas

    • Daniel Maris

      They have tried that before I believe.

  • Russell

    I bet if someone dressed up in KKK sheet & pointy hood they would be arrested, just for walking down the street, never mind in a hospital, school, bank or other public buildings including the HoC.
    I wonder is the Burkha banned in the House of Commons? Or can any terrorist disguised in one wander in?
    Pro queers, pro EU, pro Burkha, pro multiculturism, pro unlimited entry and welfare benefits for Bulgarians, Romanians, and voted for inclusion of Ukranians, Kosovans, and Turks!

    And Cameron wonders why the Tories aren’t liked by millions of white ‘hard working’ English people!.

    • HookesLaw

      ‘pro queers’ plus the rest of your rant. Ah, well it has to come out some time doesn’t it.
      Hysterical howling at the moon.
      The tories are of course opposed to what is known as multiculturalism but don’t let that stop your spittle fest.

      • Russell

        I think passing a law making marriage between queers legal (even though it wasn’t in the their manifesto) and supporting the idea of 80million Muslims to have a right of entry to the UK via EU membership and refusing to ban the burkha isn’t ranting or deserving your stupid and boring ‘howling at the moon’ comment or your equally childish and stupid ‘spittle fest’ comment.

        • Randy McDonald

          Why do you use “queer”?

          • Pootles

            Perhaps he is using it as in ‘queer theory’. You know, he’s subverted the insult. Or perhaps not…

          • Russell

            My detailed reply was moderated, so perhaps I should just say because I find it strange, not normal.

        • dave

          Russell, You undermine your argument using totally unacceptable language. Do you have genuine opinions and views to share, or are you just prejudiced and intolerant?

      • Daniel Maris

        Evidence of their opposition? A speech is not evidence. All government policy is based on the principle that Islam is the ethical equal of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity! It’s illegal to suggest otherwise.

        • FrenchNewsonlin

          Ethical equals indeed. Is it fair to ask then whether Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and Christianity advocate death for apostasy or any of a host of other culturally enlightened and enriching features of the Wahhabi Islam that appears currently to be predominant?

    • dave

      You might well soon see someone walking down the street covered all over in red trimmed with white at the edges and a pointy red hood. Not only that but white gloves and a full muslim white beard. Only the eyes showing.
      You’ll be greeted everythere dressed like that and be totally unrecognisable – who needs a burka or a Klu Klux Klan outfit?

      • Dutchnick

        I may be wrong but I have the feeling that Father Christmas does not follow faith that advocate death for being a non believer

        • dave

          Depends who is dressing up as Father Christmas doesn’t it?

  • RavenRandom

    I wonder why a Somali national, known and monitored terror suspect is even allowed to stay in Britain. Seems to be taking “fairness” a long way toward stupidity.

    • neotelemachus

      Perhaps because he is a British national. A better question is, why are so many Somalis, whose culture and history is so antithetical to our own, have been allowed entry into, and citizenship of, the greatest country on earth?

      • RavenRandom

        Yes I was going off a report in a reputable broadsheet this morning that described him as such. I agree with your comment. How did it work on the Somali-Britain immigration form: Can you speak or write English? No. Can you write your own language: No. Any skills? No. Do you like Britain: No… excellent you’ve passed, come right on in.

        • Howard Benson

          How much UK benefits funding and the fruits of criminality are being sent back to Somalia to fund terrorism? About 90% of Somalians are unemployed and on other benefits, does the Government have any idea where the money they receive ends up? We can guess.

  • James Strong

    No, fancy dress should not be banned ‘by the same reasoning’.
    The problem is the RoP.
    We all know it.
    Fancy dress has nothing to do with the RoP, the burqa does.

    • In2minds

      Exactly, but then expecting Theresa May to follow a bit of simple reason is asking a lot

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