MP pleased that women who wore niqab have gone

MP Philip Hollobone says he is pleased that the only two women in Kettering who wear burkas have left.

Inam Khan, chairman of Kettering Muslim Association, said the two women, whose husbands were doctors at Kettering General Hospital, left the town shortly after Mr Hollobone first criticised the burka in February.

The Kettering MP, who is trying to change the law to ban the burka, which some Muslim women wear to cover their face, said: “I’m pleased to hear that. Wearing the full face veil is inappropriate. To hear that no-one in the town is wearing one is a sign of an integrated society.”

Despite having no constituents who wear one, Mr Hollobone has tabled a private members bill in the House of Commons calling for the burka to be banned.

Mr Khan said: “As far as we are concerned, whatever he is saying doesn’t affect the Muslim community. It’s a non-existent issue as far as Kettering is concerned. He is looking for cheap publicity.”

Mr Khan, who knew the doctors from Friday prayer metings at the Corn Market Hall, was unsure if the families left because of Mr Hollobone’s comments. He said: “There were two doctors’ families at Kettering General Hospital who were observing the niqab. The families are no longer residents in Kettering. They left after the story Initially broke. It was shortly after that.”

Mr Hollobone said his bill was still relevant to the people of Kettering because women who wear the burka visit the town. He said women from Luton, Birmingham and Leicester visit Wicksteed Park.

Mr Hollobone also said he was representing the feelings of people in Kettering in the House of Commons. He said: “Parliament is a national institution. It’s a concern to more and more people in Kettering that more people wearing the burka are coming into the town.”

He said he had offered to meet the Muslim Association but Mr Khan had refused. Mr Hollobone will draft the Face Covering Regulation Bill in the autumn. The bill will get its second reading on December 3. It will go out for consultation a month earlier.

Northamptonshire Telegraph, 20 August 2010