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Islam Ireland welcomes debate on burqa but government has no plans for ban

The Islamic Cultural Cente of Ireland has been responding to calls from a councillor in Cork to ban the burqa in Ireland.
Aug 19th 2011, 12:53 PM 3,404 114

THE ISLAMIC CULTURAL Centre of Ireland has welcomed the opportunity to debate the issue of banning the burqa in this country but the Department of Justice has said there are no proposals to do so.

Responding to calls from the former Lord Mayor of Cork, Joe O’Callaghan, to ban the burqa in Ireland, Seummayah Enna from Islamic Cultural Centre told TheJournal.ie with regards to Islam in this country:

The covering of the face is not a religious requirement. It’s not an obligation and that has been verified by the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Ireland, Hussein Halawa, who is the most senior Islamic figure in Ireland.

Enna, who has been working with Muslim women’s issues in Ireland for over a decade, said that she had not come across any instances of women being forced to wear the Islamic veil but acknowledged there is oppression within the religion in some parts of the world.

She said the Centre “welcomed the debate as an opportunity for us to get the meaning and understanding of the dress code in Islam out to the wider public.

“We appreciate the opportunity to have a debate,” she added.

A poll on TheJournal.ie today has that 45 per cent of people are in favour of banning the burqa in Ireland with 51 per cent against, at the time of writing.

Councillor O’Callaghan, a Fine Gael member, is proposing a motion to be put before Cork City Council to call on the Minister for Justice to ban the burqa being worn by women in Ireland.

Enna contined:

We hope there would be a balanced view and representation and that those that do attend and speak would speak with knowledge and not just with personal opinions.

The Department of Justice told TheJournal.ie that: “Ireland has no proposals to ban the burqa” whilst a spokesperson for Fine Gael said that the councillor was speaking in a personal capacity and added that it was “not something the party is pursuing.”

Joe O’Callaghan could not be reached for comment. However, he told Newstalk’s Lunchtime programme today that in “this day and age they (burqas) are out of date” and “unnecessary” and added there was “a question of safety, security and common sense.”

He pointed to what he saw as a problem in the UK where “hundreds of thousands of people” are “floating around in burqas and it’s impossible to solve the problem.”

O’Callaghan also called today for the gardaí to be given powers to remove hoodies from youths in light of the recent rioting in England.

However the Department of Justice told TheJournal.ie “there are no plans to bring forward proposals to empower Gardaí to require certain persons to remove headgear.”

Poll: Do you agree with banning the burqa? >

Read: Former Cork mayor leads call for burqa ban in Ireland >

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Hugh O'Connell

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