London, UK , October 7 – The tearing of a veil from a 49-year-old Muslim woman's face in Liverpool by a man shouting racist abuse shows that irresponsible comments by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Communities and Local Government Minister Phil Woolas are leading to a breakdown of community cohesion.
In comments in tomorrow's Sunday Mirror, Phil Woolas, warns that the wearing of veils by some Muslim women could provoke "fear and resentment" and play into the hands of far-right activists. This is the same Phil Woolas who has ministerial responsibility for community cohesion and at a recent meeting with the Muslim community in Bolton dismissed Muslim concerns about foreign policy as a "load of crap".
Imran Waheed, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain , said, "While Straw claimed that the veil, worn by some Muslim women, is a "visible statement of separation and difference", it is his remarks that have in fact fed the growing anti-Muslim frenzy. He clearly understood the likely impact of his comments and in no way were his remarks only intended for readers of the Lancashire Telegraph. Woolas is charged with improving community cohesion but plays into the hands of the far right by warning Muslim women who wear the veil that they may fall prey to the BNP."
"Who is causing the breakdown of community cohesion – a harmless woman or Straw's demand that his Muslim women constituents become subservient to his whims? What plays into the hands of far-right activists – the wearing of the veil or the succession of such provocative remarks by Cabinet Ministers? Community tension has not been created or exacerbated by the dress of Muslim women. It is indeed these provocative remarks that exacerbate community tensions and give succour to right wing extremism. With comments like these, neither Straw nor Woolas are in any position whatsoever to preach about community cohesion."