(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Many adults in the United States are against a proposal developed by the Dutch government that seeks to ban Islamic veils, according to a six-country poll by Harris Interactive published in the Financial Times. 59 per cent of Americans believe Islamic women should have the right to wear the garments if they wish to do so.
Support is significantly lower in the five European nations surveyed, with Spain at 39 per cent, Italy at 34 per cent, Germany at 33 per cent, Britain at 23 per cent, and France at 23 per cent.
In October, British Labour party parliamentarian and former foreign secretary Jack Straw revealed that he asked female constituents who came to see him to remove their veils. According to the 2001 census, Muslims represent 2.7 per cent of the British population.
On Nov. 10, Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk discussed the possibility of specific regulations for the way Muslims dress, saying, "The cabinet is not in favour of Islamic women wearing a burka, but cannot impose a ban on the garment at this time. However, there are already regulations and restrictions imposed on the wearing of clothing that hides a person’s face in education and public transport."
In February 2004, the French government implemented a ban on religious symbols in schools as a measure to reaffirm the country’s secular identity. Former government minister Bernard Stasi headed the panel, which concluded that some garments—such as Islamic scarves, Jewish kippas and crosses—represent a "conspicuous" sign of spiritual affiliation that should not be allowed in the classroom.
Do you feel that the Dutch government should have the right to ban all Islamic veils which cover the body and face such as burkas?
Yes, the Islamic veils
should be banned in
all public places
Yes, the Islamic veils
should be banned but
only in certain circumstances
(for example, schools)
No, Islamic women should
have the right to wear the
Islamic veils if they wish
to do so
Source: Harris Interactive / Financial Times
Methodology: Online interviews with 12,507 adults in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States, conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, 2006. Margin of error for individual countries is 3 per cent.