A UK Independence Party leadership hopeful has called for a ban on Muslim women wearing veils in public.
Lisa Duffy, who is currently second favourite behind Diane James to succeed Nigel Farage in the party’s leadership contest, said veils should be prohibited in places like shopping centres, and on public transport.
In a speech in London on Monday, Duffy claimed her plans are designed to help Muslims integrate into Britain.
“Muslims who were born in this country are as British as I am,” she said. “I simply want them to feel as British as I do.”
She added: “I think that on our public transport networks, in public buildings, banks, stores and shopping precincts — all those places where teenagers are told to take their hoodies down and where motorcyclists are expected to remove their helmets — it is only reasonable to expect everyone to show their faces.”
The Cambridge councillor also demanded the closure of Islamic faith schools in Britain in response to the threat of Islamic terrorism, plus a “complete and comprehensive” ban on sharia courts.
Bill Etheridge, who launched his own campaign to become UKIP’s next leader in Manchester on Monday, attacked Duffy for promoting “small-minded” policies and chasing the “bigot” vote.
“I am proposing that as a party we focus on our policies, cementing libertarianism into our DNA,” he said during his speech. “That means not focusing on small issues like Islam which makes us look small-minded — I’m not chasing the bigot vote.”
Duffy rejected the criticism and claimed she was simply showing a willingness to handle the “difficult” issues. “I’m not going to be hounded into a corner to be made to feel this is the wrong thing to talk about,” she said.
She added that banning veils would allow Muslim women to enjoy the same “civil and human rights and freedoms” as a “white Christian woman.”
UKIP is a right-wing populist party and the only mainstream party which campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union. It currently has just one MP in the House of Commons, but its vote share has improved substantially in local and national elections over the past few years.
Its members have frequently been accused of racism, including former leader Nigel Farage, who controversially posed in front of a poster showing a queue of migrants with the accompanying slogan “BREAKING POINT” in the run-up to the June 23 referendum.
Duffy is currently 5/1 to be announced the next UKIP leader on September 15. She is the biggest rival to Diane James, who is widely expected to take over the anti-EU party.
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