Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Blair Backs Straw: Discourages Veil, Encourages Integration

The debate has been joined, from
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that Islamic head scarves are a sign of separation and Britain's Muslims should be encouraged to integrate with mainstream society in order to improve the quality of their lives.

Blair's comments represented a strong stand in an emotional debate that has raised broad questions about Muslim communities' ties with the rest of Britain.


Blair said Tuesday that the veil "is a mark of separation, and that's why it makes other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable."

"People want to know that the Muslim community in particular but actually all minority communities have got the balance right between integration and multiculturalism," he said.

Blair said evidence shows that "when people do integrate more, they achieve more as well. There is a reason why minority communities that have integrated well then end up doing better, achieving more, attaining more."
In an area in which he has been such a positive force for Britain and the West, Mr. Blair once again refused to allow excuses for terrorism:

The prime minister also angrily rejected suggestions that British foreign policy -- particularly the country's support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- has helped radicalize some young Muslims.

"It's absurd," he said, adding that opposition to the conflicts does not justify terrorism.

"If (radicals) are going to use that as an excuse to cause further extremism or violence, that is a reflection on them, it's not a reflection on the work we are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan," he said.
For more on the Niqab debate, check out this excellent discussion on BBC Radio.

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