23:00 GMT +317 October 2018
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    Woman wearing a niqab (file)

    'My Hero' vs 'Racist': Public Divided Over UK Bus Driver Who Confronted Niqab

    © AFP 2018 / PHILIPPE HUGUEN
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    A male First Bus driver refused to carry a young Muslim female wearing a full-face veil, prompting racism accusations and compelling the company to apologize. The incident came to light shortly after Boris Johnson's crass remarks about veil-wearing Muslim women got the Tory embroiled in a huge debate.

    According to the local media, a First Bus driver in Bristol, England has demanded that a 20-year-old Muslim passenger removed her niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an open spot only for the eyes.

    The woman, who was carrying a newborn baby during the ride, told The Bristol Post that the driver called her "scary and dangerous," and was insinuating that she was going to "bomb the bus."

    READ MORE: 'Irreparable Harm': Second Judge in Canada Suspends Implementation of Niqab Ban

    In a video recorded by a passenger during the incident, the man is heard calling face-covering veils "not good." In a heated conversation with the passengers, he described wearing a headdress in public as a matter of safety rather than a matter of choice.

    Later on, he was reported for racism to the police; First Bus apologized to the Muslim lady and added that the driver had been disciplined.

    The controversial incident has ignited a massive debate on social media. Many people hailed the bus driver's actions, arguing that he had every right to refuse service for safety reasons.

    Others, however, accused the man of bigotry and racism.

    The veil issue drew public attention in Britain this week, when Boris Johnson, a high-profile Conservative Party member and the former foreign secretary, compared Muslim women wearing niqabs to "letter boxes" and "bank robbers."

    His comments sparked a feud in the Tory camp: senior Conservatives attacked Prime Minister Theresa May after it emerged that he would face an investigation.

    Full veils have been a hot-button issue in the European Union, too. Restrictions on them in public areas are in place in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Austria, the German state of Bavaria and in parts of Switzerland. Unlike these countries, the UK hasn't enacted a similar law.

    The European countries began introducing the bans following an influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere, which escalated in 2015, citing security and integration concerns.

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    Tags:
    niqab, racism, First Bus, Tory, Boris Johnson, Bristol, United Kingdom
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