Islamic face veil called 'way of life'

Oct. 16, 2010 at 4:57 PM

LONDON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Islamic face veil is part of the "British way of life" and should be recognized as such, a think-tank report says.

Politicians in France and Belgium have voted in favor of banning the full veil, but a report by the Civitas think tank said the test of whether religious symbols are appropriate should be based on their practicality, The Daily Telegraph reported.

In the Civitas report published Saturday called "Women, Islam and Western Liberalism," Alveena Malik, a former faith adviser to the last Labor government, said one's choice of religious apparel is a basic right.

"We in Britain need to take a different direction from others in Europe and to accept the veil as part of a modern British way of life," Malik said.

"The wearing of religious symbols, including the full veil, should be a fundamental human right of an individual in both the public and private sphere. … The real test for religious symbols in the public sphere should always be: 'Does the wearing of a symbol (such as the kirpan, turban, yarmulke, crucifix and the veil) hinder a citizen's ability to perform their public civic duties?'" Malik said.

Opponents claim the veil oppresses women and presents a barrier between those who wear traditional dress and the rest of society.

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