Jack Straw attacks the veil

Jack Straw faces suggestions of racism as he condemns the veil in Britain

Is this honest free speech or thinly veiled racism? Jack Straw, the ex-foreign secretary, has upset Muslim groups by saying that women who wear veils over their faces can make community relations harder.

Straw said that the veil is ‘a visible statement of separation and of difference.’ He argued that ‘wearing the full veil was bound to make better more positive relations between two communities difficult.’ and asked women to consider removing it.

Rajnaara Akhtar, from Protect-Hijab suggested that the ‘appalling’ comments showed a ‘deep lack of understanding‘.

‘Mr Straw is putting women into a very awkward position by compromising the faith they believe in and that is ill-placed,’ he said.

‘I don’t think it’s the job for somebody who represents the whole community to say to somebody who comes through the door, ‘Do you mind if you dress different in order to talk to me?’, said Mr Hughes, a spokesman from the Liberal Democrats.

However Labour chairman, Hazel Blears said: ‘I do not think it’s right for government to lay down laws about what people should wear and what they shouldn’t.

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