Australian Senator flayed for burqa comments

May 07, 2010 12:19 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:00 pm IST - MELBOURNE

In this file photo, unidentified women are seen wearing a niqab during a demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague, Netherlands. AP.

In this file photo, unidentified women are seen wearing a niqab during a demonstration outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague, Netherlands. AP.

An Australian opposition Senator, who dubbed burqa as “un—Australian” and sought its ban in the country, has been criticised by the Muslim community as well as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi lashed out in an article which was published on The Drum website, saying the burqa “needs to be binned“.

Mr. Bernardi’s comment has irked Australia’s peak Islamic organisation which has reacted with disappointment over comments.

He called it a “repressive domination of men over women” and said it establishes “different sets and expectations in society“.

Mr. Rudd today accused the opposition of playing a cynical political exercise by floating the idea and said: “I think they are walking both sides of the street on this one....having someone like Bernardi go out there and talk this up.”

“It’s a pretty interesting exercise in cynical politics” he added.

In his article, Mr. Bernardi said it was unfair that people with motorcycle helmets had to remove them to identify themselves, where women wearing burqas did not because of religious freedom.

“As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station,” he said.

“It’s a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement.

“However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom.”

However, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said a ban on the burqa was not coalition policy.

Muhammad Dahir from Islamic Association of Australia said the burqa is not a compulsory part of Islamic culture and most women have no problem showing their face to identify themselves.

“If people want to see your face, then there’s nothing wrong with that, they have to accept these things. The majority of the Muslim community have no problem with that,” he said admitting there were some areas of society where men will force their wives to wear a burqa, but for the rest, it was a woman’s choice to cover herself completely.

Mr. Bernardi also said Australia also needs to move towards a full ban and that migrating Muslims need to adopt Australian values.

“New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left,” he said.

“They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.”

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