Malcolm Pearson is right to call for the banning of the wearing of face veils in public places on security grounds just as helmets and hoodies that hide peoples faces are banned in shopping malls, banks, airports etc. People are identified by their face as Maurice Bowra, the former Master of Wadham, once pointed out to his friends when he wrapped a towel round his face to prevent being identified when spotted sun bathing in the nude by a group of women.
One of the police's well used excuses for inaction against anti-social behaviour like throwing stones through neighbour's windows is that the culprits cannot be identified even with CCTV footage for arrest and prosecution because the perpetrators invariably wear face covering hoodies or as the IRA and UVF did, balaclavas. It is impossible for an eye witness to identify any one when their face is covered and only their eyes are visible as that other well known Oxford character DCI Morse found out when looking for a missing girl. The girl answered the door to Morse at the start of the episode but her face was plastered with heavy ointment leaving only her eyes visible. Morse could not recognise her until he returned at the end of the episode, two hours later, when the girl's face was all visible. Even that well known former left wing agitator and now pillar of the Establishment and cabinet member, Jack Straw was very unhappy about seeing only a pair of eyes at his constituency surgeries.
Quite right banning the burqa is un-British.However that's not really the issue is it? The issue is the un-Britishness of those wearing the burqa even when they were born here. The front page headline in today's Sunday Telegraph reads, "Terrorist alert over female suicide bombers" relating to the raising of the threat to the UK of futher Al Quaeda terrorism to 'severe'. Undoubtedly these females will be clean skins and not wearing a face veil when trying board an aircraft but how will we have decent intelligence on them if they previously had their faces hidden?
I do not care a jot about Muslim anger or self perceived stigmatisation if it saves the life of one ordinary law abiding traveller. There has been too much pandering to self anointed UK Muslim 'community' leaders. Only democratically elected representatives can speak for citizens of the UK. That is the British way!
As for stigmatisation, Al Quaeda is Muslim, the IRA Catholic, the UVF Protestant and the Irgun Jews. The latter's bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 resulted in 91 fatalities something the Israelis want us to forget. Its not stigmatisation but cold common sense. You have to look and identify Al Quaeda terrorists in their self imposed Muslim ghettoes and assosciations. That facial identification of all suspects and that cannot be done without banning veils as happens in Turkey and other Islamic countries and will soon happen in France. We have to start profiling travellers and concentrating our security efforts on these suspects or there will be more slaughter in our skies, more grieving families and more jubilant Muslim fanatics.