Dawkins wades into burkha row with ‘binliner’ comment

By politics.co.uk staff

Richard Dawkins has found himself in the middle of the ongoing row about the burkha by comparing the religious dress to a “full bin-liner thing”.

The comments, made to the Radio Times while publicising a new programme on faith schools, prompted instant condemnation from Muslim groups, who accused the prominent atheist of Islamophobia.

Seyyed Ferjani, of the Muslim Association of Britain (MCB), said: “It is a woman’s choice if she wants to wear a burkha, a niqab, or not. Why does it matter to this man what a woman is wearing?”

But Professor Dawkins refused to back down, telling the Daily Mail: “I do feel visceral revulsion at the burkha because for me it is a symbol of the oppression of women.”

The author of The Selfish Gene insisted it was not appropriate to ban the item, however.

“As a liberal I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications for individual liberty and freedom of choice,” he said.

The debate over the wearing of the burkha in Britain was reignited when France voted to ban the garment.

One backbench Tory MP has tabled a private members bill demanding the same but several government figures have made it clear no legislation will be forthcoming.

Immigration minister Damian Green said such a response would be “un-British”.