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    Burqa 'Hideous Garment' Not 'Integral to Islam' Poses Security Risk - UK Imam

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    Former UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson should not apologize "for telling the truth" in his comments on wearing face-concealing and full-body veils in public, an Islamic leader in Britain has said.

    "Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain, thus precipitating security risks, accelerating vitamin D deficiency, endorsing gender-inequality and inhibiting community cohesion," Dr. Taj Hargey, imam at the Oxford Islamic Congregation, added.

    Mr. Johnson has faced fierce backlash after he said Muslim head veils were "oppressive" to women and said it is "absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes."

    "The burqa and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim," Dr. Hargey wrote in a letter to the Times.

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech at the Policy Exchange in London, Wednesday Feb. 14, 2018.
    © AP Photo / Simon Dawson
    Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson delivers a speech at the Policy Exchange in London, Wednesday Feb. 14, 2018.

    READ MORE: National Shame or Push for Power? Twitter Reacts to Johnson's Burqa Rhetoric

    The imam also said the ex-Foreign Secretary Johnson "did not go far enough" in his column that sparked controversy and calls for him to apologize for saying veiled women looked like "bank robbers."

    A woman in traditional Muslim gowns videofilms her family under the watchful eyes of the lions guarding the Nelson column at Trafalgar square in London, 12 August 2002.
    © AFP 2018 / Odd Andersen
    A woman in traditional Muslim gowns videofilms her family under the watchful eyes of the lions guarding the Nelson column at Trafalgar square in London, 12 August 2002.

    Dr. Taj Hargey is the Director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, "a diverse group of forward-looking Muslim academics, entrepreneurs, professionals, retirees, students and other Oxford residents."

    In 2015, following the ruling by the French Parliamentary Commission, MECO took the lead in pioneering an anti-Burqa and Niqab Initiative (ABNI).

    "British Muslims must distinguish between religion and culture by recognizing that face covering is a tribal cultural habit that is in fact explicitly prohibited during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. If it is forbidden at Islam's holiest mosque, then why is it fine elsewhere?" MECO said at the time.

    The organization has also argued that many Muslims "have been misled by propaganda from the Wahhabi-Salafi-Deobandi-Tabligh Jamati and Jamati Islami sects that the burqa/niqab is integral to Islam." MECO then called on Britain to follow France and Belgium in upholding a ban on public face-covers.

    A Wednesday poll revealed that more than half — 59% of respondents — supported banning the wearing of a burqa in public places, while 48% said that Boris Johnson should not ask pardon for his comments.

    READ MORE: British Public Largely Against Burqas, Don't Think Johnson Should Say Sorry

    Related:

    British Public Largely Against Burqas, Don't Think Johnson Should Say Sorry
    National Shame or Push for Power? Twitter Reacts to Johnson's Burqa Rhetoric
    Johnson Reportedly Refuses to Apologize for Burqa Remarks Despite Backlash
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    imam, burqa, Islam, Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
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