The Government was plunged into disarray as a senior Minister accused Muslim women of being “selfish” by refusing to stop wearing veils. Amid growing signs that the controversy is causing civil disorder, Commons Leader Jack Straw’s deputy Nigel Griffiths claimed that women who cover their faces in public are ignoring the feelings of others.
The row came as a 49-year-old mother’s veil was torn from her at a bus stop in Liverpool. Her daughter Ilham Ali said: “The man was shouting, ‘Pull that scarf off your head, you Muslim’. I’m 100 per cent certain the racist attack on my mum was a direct result of the comments Jack Straw made.”
Seventy people from the Stop The War Coalition, including 20 women in veils, staged a protest against Mr Straw in his Blackburn constituency. But he stood by his claim that veils were a “visible statement of separation and difference” and harmed community relations.
Mr Griffiths went a step further, saying: “It’s all very well for Muslim women to say that they feel comfortable wearing the veil but it is important that other people feel comfortable, too. The fact is that the veil does not make other people feel comfortable. In that way it could be said that they are being selfish. We live in a society where we applaud people for thinking about other people’s feelings.”