Chris­tensen calls to ‘ban the burqa’

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

FED­ERAL Mem­ber for Daw­son, George Chris­tensen, says any ban on the burqa and other fa­cial cov­er­ings in Par­lia­ment House should be ex­tended to all pub­lic spa­ces in the Whit­sun­days and else­where in Aus­tralia.

After lead­ing the charge to have fa­cial cov­er­ings banned in Par­lia­ment House, Mr Chris­tensen said sim­i­lar rules should ap­ply to all se­cure build­ings and pub­lic spa­ces.

“Wear­ing a burqa, a niqab, a bala­clava, or any other fa­cial cov­er­ing should be banned in Cen­tro, Main Street, and any other pub­lic place in the Whit­sun­days,” he said.

The new Par­lia­ment House rules, which came into ef­fect last week, pro­hibit the burqa be­ing worn in open pub­lic ar­eas of the gallery. The ban, im­ple­mented by Speaker Bron­wyn Bishop as a re­sult of a push by Mr Chris­tensen and other MP’s, cre­ated con­tro­versy na­tion­wide.

Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott, who pre­vi­ously said he found the burqa con­fronting, has now in­ter­vened, ask­ing Bron­wyn Bishop to re­con­sider her decision.

But Mr Chris­tensen says his call to ban fa­cial cov­er­ings in pub­lic places is not an at­tack on Is­lam.

“Even highly re­garded Is­lamic schol­ars say fa­cial cov­er­ings are not nec­es­sary. The Grand Mufti of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, who is the near­est equiv­a­lent to the Pope in the Is­lamic world, has said that women are not obliged to wear fa­cial cov­er­ings,” he said.

Mr Chris­tensen says if this se­cu­rity mea­sure is found to be good enough for politi­cians in Par­lia­ment House, “it is good enough for ev­ery­one in the Whit­sun­days and across Aus­tralia”.

“We have CCTV in many se­cure build­ings and in pub­lic spa­ces for a rea­son but this se­cu­rity mea­sure is point­less if peo­ple are al­lowed to hide their iden­tity in those places,” he said.

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL COM­MENT: Fed­eral Mem­ber for Daw­son George Chris­tensen weighed into the burqa de­bate.

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