Muslim women would have to remove veils and show their faces to police on request or risk a prison sentence under proposed new laws in Australia’s most populous state that have drawn criticism as culturally insensitive.
A vigorous debate that the proposal has triggered reflects the cultural clashes being ignited by the growing influx of Muslim immigrants and the unease that visible symbols of Islam are causing in predominantly white Christian Australia since 1973 when the government relaxed its immigration policy.
Under the law proposed by the government of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, a woman who defies police by refusing to remove her face veil could be sentenced to a year in prison and fined 5,500 Australian dollars ($5,900).
The bill — to be voted on by the state parliament in August — has been condemned by civil libertarians and many Muslims as an overreaction to a traffic offense case involving a Muslim woman driver in a “niqab”, or a veil that reveals only the eyes.
The government says the law would require motorists and criminal suspects to remove any head coverings so that police can identify them.
In a population of 23 million, only about 400,000 Australians are Muslim. Community advocates estimate that fewer than 2,000 women wear face veils, and it is likely that even a smaller percentage drives.
“It does seem to be very heavy handed, and there doesn’t seem to be a need,It shows some cultural insensitivity” said Australian Council for Civil Liberties spokesman David Bernie.
An Australian national Muslim female Mouna Unnjinal, a mother of five who has been driving in Sydney in a niqab for 18 years and has never been booked for a traffic offense, in this regard said;
‘It is a religious issue here, We’re going to feel very intimidated and our privacy is being invaded”.
A normal Muslim female would not hesitate to show her face to a POLICEWOMEN. But she woul fear POLICEMEN might misuse the law to deliberately intimidate Muslim women. If she’d ask for a POLICEWOMEN when been asked to remove the veil by a POLICEMEN, will she be penalized ???? Thats the very question on every Muslim female. In this regard, Mouna Unnjinal said;
“If I’m pulled over by a policeman, I might say I want to see a female police lady and he says,‘No, I want to see your face,” Unnjinal said. “Where does that leave me? Do I get penalized 5,000 dollars and sent to jail for 12 months because I wouldn’t?”
What could be the main reason behind this new law, which is about to be imposed in AUSTRALIA.. If its Australia now, then gradually there’d be more. But still it is a religious issue, And it needs to be SOLVED, and solved immediately.