George Christensen calls for a national burqa ban in public
OPINION: THIS weekend I will put up a motion at The Nationals Federal Conference essentially calling for a ban on full facial coverings in all government buildings and public spaces.
If this was adopted, Nationals members and senators, as one of the parties that make up the Federal Coalition, would take steps to see this brought in as government policy.
This is not a new position for me. In fact I was the leader of a push for the banning of full face coverings, including the burqa, in Parliament House more than three years ago.
This is a legitimate security concern for most Australians, and, quite simply, it is common sense which has been side-lined by the pc police.
People who seek to conceal their identity pose a security risk - plain and simple.
Balaclavas and bandanas are often worn by far right or far left political groups.
They mask their face for obvious reasons, when they are engaging in potentially illegal or violent acts.
They should be required to remove those masks.
We know there have been incidents where people have undermined the security and safety of other citizens under the guise of a burqa.
Last month a Melbourne man wearing a burqa robbed a fast food outlet.
In June this year, a man wearing a burqa lured an 11-year-old boy away from an Abu Dhabi mosque, and raped and strangled the child.
Also in June a terrorist who conducted a failed suicide bomb attack was able to wander London undetected for hours afterwards because he was wearing a burqa.
Masking your face from other people engenders fear. A lot of the cues we pick up during social interaction are from facial expressions.
Any facial covering leads to a lack of social engagement, and contributes to isolation.
Given that we know it is migrant populations who wear the burqa, it's integration we want to encourage, not isolation.
Many consider the burqa and the niqab to be Islamic garments but they are wrong.
Though some Muslims wear them, these garments come out of Saudi Arabia most likely from a culture that predated Islam.
The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, who is considered one of the world's leading Islamic figures said "the niqab is not obligatory in our religion.
Rather it is a cultural tradition of the pre-Islam practiced by some communities once. It was not a religious significance. Muslims know this."
In February a Sydney Sunni community leader Jamal Daoud stated "Contrary to claims made by extremists, the burqa and the niqab are not part of the original teachings of Islam...there is no doubt that wearing the burqa or the niqab is an indication of extreme conservative ideology."
And let's cut to the chase. The pre-Islamic culture that spawned the wearing of these facial coverings is one that's oppressive to women.
It's the same culture that does not allow girls to go to school, or women to drive cars, let alone vote.
Are the women who do this really choosing to wear it, or are they simply conforming to a lot of pressure around them - from family, social groups, and religious communities?
What more graphic illustration of this point that when the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa was liberated in July, women threw off the burqas they were forced to wear and burned them.
Changing the law to ban wearing facial coverings would give those women who really don't want to wear it an out.
They could tell those pressuring them that the law says 'I can't wear it'.
Recent polls show that more than fifty per cent of people are in favour of banning the burqa.
Politicians need to listen to the sentiment being expressed by the community and not be silent for fear of people calling them racists or bigots.