MP reignites burqa debate

SUNSHINE Coast MP Peter Wellington is set to reignite the debate over Muslim women being forced to remove burqas and face veils.

The Independent Member for Nicklin has warned the State Government it has just weeks to act on the issue or he will reintroduce a private member's bill he drafted in 2011.

Mr Wellington wants the laws changed to give police, courts and the security industry powers to compel people to remove the veil for identity checks.

The move came just days after a Brisbane magistrate expressed concerns about sentencing a woman who was wearing a veil that left only her eyes visible.

Mr Wellington said it was an issue that needed to be reconsidered as the world's leaders were due in Brisbane next year for the G20 summit.

"It's not a racial issue - it's simply a common sense approach," he said.

"THE reality is a judge, a magistrate, police when they pull someone over for a traffic offence - they have a right to be able to identify a face, to identify a person when they appear in court.

"That right should apply for our state government security officers, whether they are securing our prisons or they are securing state government premises.

"I have made it very clear that if the Attorney-General doesn't do anything, I will reintroduce my private member's bill when parliament resumes in August.

"I will then require the government to respond to my amendments on the floor of parliament."

The Labor Party was in power when Mr Wellington drafted his bill in late 2011, but both it and the LNP Opposition "didn't want to know about it".

He said he received widespread community support, including praise from Muslim leaders such as Sunshine Coast lawyer Haset Sali.

The former president for the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said at the time the wearing of the burqa had nothing to with Islam.

"Get rid of them (burqas and veils). They're primitive and have nothing to do with Islam," he said.

"If you read the Koran it is very clear both women and men shall dress modestly and women shall cover their breasts.

"Three cheers for Peter Wellington for introducing the new bill."

Mr Wellington admitted he wasn't sure how the LNP-dominated parliament would swing on the matter.

"I think it's a responsible amendment to the laws because we have identified that there is a failing there," he said. "It is ridiculous for someone to claim they can hide behind the burqa and say 'I shouldn't have to identify myself'.

"I have given the Attorney-General fair warning that if he doesn't act on this matter, I will."

Should Burqas be banned?

This poll ended on 30 June 2013.

Current Results

Yes, all the time

31%

Yes, but only in court

26%

No, but wearers shouldn't hide behind them

9%

No, leave them alone

31%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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