18 Dec 2003
In light of the current controversy over the issue of hijab (headscarf) in France, the Muslim Council of Britain warmly welcomes the remarks to be made at an ‘Id al-Fitr Reception tonight by the Home Office Minister Fiona MacTaggart in which she is due to say: “Britishness today is not homogeneous. It is evolving and is as rich as the different people in Britain. British Muslims have consistently shown how it is possible to be British, Muslim and proud.
“There has been a long running controversy in France both within the state education system and nationally about symbols and the role of faith in a secular society. This is a debate we had a long time ago, and with our very different traditions and with sensitivity displayed by all faiths, we have been able to find within our own culture a way of celebrating diversity without controversy. For example a British woman can wear the hijab comfortably in public or in a school. That diversity is something that as a Government we value and why we are developing work on inter-faith dialogue and the importance of understanding of each others cultures and respect for one another’s traditions and values.”
Speaking at the same Eid Reception organised by the Muslim Weekly newspaper, the MCB Secretary-General, Iqbal Sacranie will say: `It is a matter of pride for us that Muslim women can freely wear the hijab in the UK if they choose to do so. The reality is that Britain today comprises of a multi-faith society, as does France. By outlawing the hijab in state schools, the French government has not only institutionalised Islamophobia but has contributed towards the even further marginalisation and disenfranchisement of that country’s Muslim community. We urge our government to engage its partners in Paris and Brussels and work towards the revocation of this unjust ban.’[Ends]