London, October 19: Only two weeks in his post, Britain’s new immigration minister believes that hijab should not be allowed at British schools, pressing for tougher immigration rules into the country.”People wear veils for different reasons: some out of religious conviction. some because they’re forced to. It should be up to them,” Phil Woolas told.
“But at school you shouldn’t wear one. It’s harder to get a good education if you wear a veil as you’re more cut off.”
Hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, not a symbol that shows ones religious affiliation.
France banned the Muslim veil in public places in 2004, with several European countries following suit.
Woolas, who was named to his new post on October 3 in a cabinet reshuffle, supports Muslim schools in the European country.
“[But] you have to use schools to help break down segregation,” he said.
“They should learn about all faiths there shouldn’t be exclusive access. Children from other faiths should be allowed in.”
He believes that British Muslim women should gain a foothold in the labor market, even if that goes against their culture.
“My guiding light is that we have to talk about these things. It is important for everyone,” he said.
Britain is home to nearly 2 million Muslims.
The British minister said he would toughen immigration rules to lower the number of immigrants coming into Britain.
“It’s been too easy to get into this country in the past and it’s going to get harder,” he said.
Woolas said the current global economic crisis has made immigration an extremely thorny issue.
“Clearly if people are being made unemployed, then the question of immigration becomes extremely thorny.”
Britain’s unemployment rate jumped to an eight-year high of 5.7 percent in the three months to August, according to official estimates.
“We need a tougher immigration policy and we need to stop seeing it as a dilemma. It’s not. It’s easy. I’m going to do my best to help the British back to work.”
Accordingly, net immigration is estimated to be more than 200,000 a year until 2012.
“We have to have a population policy and that means at some point we will be able to set a limit on migration,” said Woolas.
“There has to be a balance between the number of people coming in and the number of people leaving.”