Oz anti-discrimination watchdog says burqa issue threatens safety of Muslim women

Melbourne, May 28: Victoria's Equal opportunity and human rights commissioner Helen Szoke has said that airing the burqa issue threatens the safety of Muslim women.

"I'd be concerned if that whole anti-burqa, anti-hijab dialogue started again. It really places Muslim women who choose to wear that garb in a pretty invidious situation. It can make you feel frightened or makes you feel like you don't want to come out," she said.

Figures show that the number of religious vilification complaints received by the commission this year is 50 per cent higher than last year, The Herald Sun reports.

Dr Szoke said religious dress issues provoked high emotion and featured stereotyping and misleading information.

"Everyone is entitled to an opinion (but) at the same time everyone is also entitled to feel safe and accepted in our community," she said.

Late last year South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi called for a ban of the burqa, while his leader, Tony Abbott, said the burqa was "particularly confronting" and he wished fewer women wore it.

The Islamic Council of Victoria told a federal inquiry into multiculturalism that Australians should be more tolerant of Muslims wearing burqas and hijabs.

Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com