Britain has said that it would not follow France in banning Muslim women from wearing 'burqa' in public as such a move would run contrary to the conventions of a "tolerant and respectful society".
The immigration minister, Mr Damian Green, told 'The Sunday Telegraph' that the move to ban women from wearing veils would be "rather un-British", despite a recent opinion poll showing widespread public support for such an action.
Claiming it would be "undesirable" for Parliament to vote on a burqa ban in Britain similar to that approved in France, he said: "Telling people what they can and can't wear, if they are just walking down the street, is rather un-British thing to do.
We're a tolerant and mutually respectful society. "There are times, clearly, when you've got to be able to identify yourself, and people have got to be able to see your face, but I think it’s very unlikely and it would be undesirable for the British Parliament to try and pass a law dictating what people wore. "Very few women in France actually wear the burqa.
They (the French parliament) are doing it for demonstration effects. The French political culture is very different. They are an aggressively secular state. They can ban the burqa, they ban crucifixes in schools and things like that. "We have schools run explicitly by religions. I think there's absolutely no read-across to immigration policy from what the French are doing about the burqa."
The minister's comments will dismay the growing number of British supporters of such a ban — a 'YouGov' survey found last week that 67 per cent of respondents wanted the wearing of full-face veils to be made illegal. His comments also came after the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told the newspaper that the UK was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims.