Tony Abbott’s burqa comments divide and hurt, says Labor | Islamic veil

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Tony Abbott’s comments that he finds the “confrontation” with the burqa is divisive and harmful, and should not come from a prime minister, members of the Labor opposition have said.

Asked about potential measures to ban clothing in parliament on Wednesday, Abbott replied that it is not the government’s business to tell people what they should or should not wear, however. “I have already said , I find it quite difficult form of dress and frankly, I wish it was not worn.

Abbott would not be attracted to his comments when questioned further on Thursday morning, telling media in Melbourne “this is not the most important problem our country is currently facing”.

However, previous statements were supported by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, who said he found the burqa “rather medieval” and humiliating for women, but did not think it should be banned.

Asked how his comments contributed to the government’s stated desire to reach out to the Islamic community to ensure that they are partners in the fight against terrorism, Andrews said: “Many people in the community Islamic do not wear the burqa. There are some who choose to do it, but I was asked what my opinion was on this and that’s what I said.

Pressed on how the comments have been useful to the current debate, Andrews said: “I wouldn’t ban it. I don’t think we should put ourselves in a position to ban certain forms of clothing in the society in which we live. It strikes me as contrary to the liberal western principles upon which our civilization and society is built, but I think like I said, I think it’s humiliating for women. “

The campaign to ban the burqa in parliament was led by Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, who has called for a public ban on clothing for years. President Bronwyn Bishop, who once asked a ban on the hijab in schools, asked Asio and the federal police to assess the safety risks of people wearing full face coverings entering the public area of ​​parliament. It is already not allowed in the private spaces of parliament.

Abbott’s comments sparked outrage from opposition MPs. Labor leader Bill Shorten told ABC Lateline on Wednesday night that Abbott was entitled to his point of view but should not have “edited” with his own views against the burqa.

“When you are the leader of the nation, everyone listens to what you are saying,” Shorten said.

“And I wish he had just defended the right of people to practice their religion (…)

Opposition Affairs Director Tony Burke told Sky News it was a ‘silly’ message to send and accused the PM of acting like an opposition leader and for choosing a path of division when he had to remember that he was the leader of the entire nation.

“People feel hurt because he is Prime Minister of Australia,” said Burke.

“People are not coming together in a way that Australia needs more than ever.”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has said he does not find the burqa confronted and despite the bipartisan support Labor has given the government on national security issues “we will call him when he is wrong, and on this subject , he is wrong”.

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said she would prefer Abbott not wear his speedos in public, “but it’s a free country.”

The prime minister was also indirectly reprimanded within his own party.

Liberal MP Andrew Laming wrote in a editorial for the Daily Telegraph that a burqa ban was a “no-problem”, but that welcoming religious and cultural clothing was part of the package to be a prosperous and wealthy multicultural nation.

“Of course, we need personal identification at security points or when accessing taxpayer funded goods or services. This also applies to wearing balaclavas, helmets and masks, ”Laming wrote.

However, “like wearing a robe, a cross, or a shawl, it is an obvious form of religious expression, but it doesn’t need to impact the rest of us.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull both defended Abbott’s comments.

“For security reasons, it is absolutely essential that people can be identified,” Bishop told ABC radio on Thursday.

“I am not confronted with clothes, Australia is a very open, free and tolerant society and we do not discriminate on the basis of religious or cultural clothing, people are free to wear whatever they like, some may be offended by it, some may face it, but in Australia we have a choice, and it is that kind of choice and society that we fight to defend.

Turnbull said Abbott’s frankness was one of his endearing qualities and called on Shorten to stop playing politics.

“[Abbott] is very open and I think what he said was fair enough.

Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie has spoken out in her calls for a total burqa ban and in her critiques of Islamic law, which she says involves terrorism.

She told Network Seven’s Sunrise that she thought Abbott’s comments were courageous and that the issue was about national security.

“We have to be able to say body language, and we can do it through the face,” she said.

Maha Abdo of the Muslim Women’s Association replied that there was no problem with Muslim women lifting their veils to be identified by security if needed, and asked why this posed a security concern. Lambie said she couldn’t hear the question.

Abdo cited the extensive work being done in New South Wales to establish procedures at security checkpoints to identify women wearing the liner.

“We have worked so clearly so that there is no conflict,” she said.

Abdo said the rule change was a “joke” and sent a message that “this piece of cloth, or clothing for Muslim women, is associated with terror and a security threat.”

“Are they responding to a real threat here?” ” she said. “Why are we giving this away all the time when there are real threats? “

She said there was deep frustration among women in the Muslim community at being targeted by senior government officials, but there was “no more anger.”

“Now it’s a feeling of sympathy, because our government is so pathetic, that it’s reduced to playing with its citizens and piling up threats that don’t exist,” Abdo said.

The chief executive of the Arab Council of Australia, Randa Kattan, called the measure “absolutely scandalous”.

“There are messages of conflict coming out of Canberra. The Prime Minister says on the one hand that he wants everyone to be part of Team Australia. But at the same time, we see something like today’s decision, ”she said.

“It isolates women more and more. This is a clear message that women in society are being targeted, and more so Muslim women.

She said the fear was “stoked” and left some of her staff who wore the hijab worried about traveling around Sydney. “We are all for national security, we all want to feel protected, but this comes at the expense of the innocent”

Lambie’s call for a blanket burqa ban is supported by Cory Bernardi and fellow Coalition backbench MP George Christensen.

A final decision on any ban in Parliament’s public spaces is expected to be made within a week.


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