Malaysia Islamic party says veil ban could spark terrorism

15th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Malaysia's Islamic opposition party said Wednesday that a vote by French lawmakers to outlaw the full-face veil had angered Muslims and could trigger terrorist attacks.

The Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) said France should adopt a path of engagement with Muslims instead of introducing the controversial bill.

"It will widen the efforts of many organisations to narrow the gap between the Western and Islamic world," PAS deputy president Nasaruddin Mat Isa told a press conference.

"We hope it will not spark further terror activities. The French move has sparked anger around the Islamic world."

Nasaruddin said the ban violated individual rights, and that Muslim women should be allowed to wear what they want in France, just as non-Muslim French women are permitted to dress as they wish in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

"They can come here and wear their bikinis," he said.

PAS lawmaker Hatta Ramli said he did not accept arguments that the burqa -- a full-body covering with a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening for the eyes -- suppress women's rights.

"I don't think that holds water," he said.

The French parliament passed a law Tuesday prohibiting the wearing of the full-face veil in public, meaning a ban will come into force early next year if it is not overturned by senior judges.

The Senate passed the bill by 246 votes to one and, having already cleared the lower house in July, the bill will now be reviewed by the Constitutional Council, which has a month to confirm its legality.

© 2010 AFP

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