17 Dec 2003
The Muslim Council of Britain strongly deplores the ban that is widely expected to be announced today by the French President Jacques Chirac that will seek to prevent Muslim schoolgirls in that country from wearing the Hijab (headscarf).
“This unjust ban should be revoked without delay as it represents a clear violation of the rights of the individual and is just the kind of high-handed decree one would normally expect to be issued by authoritarian governments – not from a liberal democracy. The ban is the latest example of an institutionalised Islamophobia that is unfortunately taking root in several parts of Europe. There is something absurd about the sight of the mighty French state trembling before a mere headscarf. This issue shows that militant secularists can be every bit as intolerant as religious obscurantists,” said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
A delegation from the MCB is due to meet with Mike O’Brien, a Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Thursday 18th December 2003 to convey British Muslim concerns about the French ban together with the increasing amount of hate crimes that are being perpetrated against Muslims throughout Europe. The MCB will call upon the British government to raise the matter urgently with its counterparts in both Paris and Brussels.
Mr Sacranie further added: “We should inform President Jacques Chirac about how diversity in Britain has enriched this nation just as it would certainly enrich France. The Hijab has not in any way threatened Britain; it will not endanger France either. Banning it, however, will send a strong signal throughout the Muslim world that the French Government is intent on revisiting its dark and brutal days in North and West Africa. We hope this is not the case.”[Ends]
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