Burkas and other face-covering veils should not be allowed in certain places like Parliament, a senior Church of England bishop has said.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali warned that Islamic dress is being “weaponised by Islamists” and said the garments should be outlawed in a variety of places “for reasons of national security”.
The comments by the Pakistani-born cleric, who led the Diocese of Rochester between 1994 and 2009, come amid an escalating row over Boris Johnson’s controversial comments abut burkas after he described women in face-covering veils as looking like letterboxes or bank robbers.
Bishop Nazir-Ali told the Mail on Sunday: “We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burka and making an effective getaway.
“For reasons of national security, there will be places like Parliament or Whitehall or town halls and council chambers where the burka should not be allowed.”
He also called for bans on the face-coverings in certain situations where it’s important that people can see each other’s faces.
“This is even more true of doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics,” he added.
The comments come as a ComRes survey for the Sunday Express found that 53% of people said Mr Johnson shouldn’t face disciplinary action over his comments, while 40% said he deserved to be disciplined.
The ComRes poll found that 60% of respondents believe that rights to free speech are being weakened, against just 5% who said they were strengthening.