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Christensen calls to ‘ban the burqa’

By Mark Beale

FEDERAL Member for Dawson, George Christensen, says any ban on the burqa and other facial coverings in Parliament House should be extended to all public spaces in the Whitsundays and elsewhere in Australia.

After leading the charge to have facial coverings banned in Parliament House, Mr Christensen said similar rules should apply to all secure buildings and public spaces.

“Wearing a burqa, a niqab, a balaclava, or any other facial covering should be banned in Centro, Main Street, and any other public place in the Whitsundays,” he said.

The new Parliament House rules, which came into effect last week, prohibit the burqa being worn in open public areas of the gallery. The ban, implemented by Speaker Bronwyn Bishop as a result of a push by Mr Christensen and other MP’s, created controversy nationwide.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who previously said he found the burqa confronting, has now intervened, asking Bronwyn Bishop to reconsider her decision.

But Mr Christensen says his call to ban facial coverings in public places is not an attack on Islam.

“Even highly regarded Islamic scholars say facial coverings are not necessary. The Grand Mufti of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, who is the nearest equivalent to the Pope in the Islamic world, has said that women are not obliged to wear facial coverings,” he said.

Mr Christensen says if this security measure is found to be good enough for politicians in Parliament House, “it is good enough for everyone in the Whitsundays and across Australia”.

“We have CCTV in many secure buildings and in public spaces for a reason but this security measure is pointless if people are allowed to hide their identity in those places,” he said.

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