"There is no reason why they would close the door to us and open the door for others like animals and homosexuals.''
WHEN the Reverend Fred Nile failed to secure enough votes for his bill to ban the burqa in State Parliament, it came as no surprise to some.The Christian Democrats leader from Kogarah Bay received only three votes to 29 when he tried to move his bill in parliament."The wearing of the burqa is a form of oppression that has no place in the 21st century,'' Mr Nile said."We must do what we can to protect women, especially, from discrimination and oppression so they live an open lifestyle.''Mr Nile's Full-face Coverings Prohibitions Bill would have followed the same path as Belgium and France which restricted anyone from concealing their identity in public."It won't just be a burqa, it would include scarves and motorcycle helmets,'' Mr Nile said. "With the exception of a church or mosque, people would not be allowed to cover their face in public.''Mr Nile said there was no reason for women to wear the burqa since their religion did not enforce it."I don't believe that anyone would willingly want to wear a burqa,'' he said. "These women have been told to cover themselves and this bill would give them freedom.''A string of robberies at Caringbah, Miranda and Burwood by bandits dressed to hide their identity recently renewed calls to ban the burqa."I have no problem with people wearing religious symbols, but not to the extent of concealing identity,'' Mr Nile said."The fundamentalist Muslim is forcing women [to wear] burqas, which is a way of saying this is a Muslim uniform.''A Hurstville reader who wears the burqa wrote to the Leader and said she was never forced to wear the dress. Born in Australia, the Muslim woman who asked to remain anonymous said Mr Nile's bill was never a concern."The politicians in parliament are well-educated and understand culture,'' she said."There is no reason why they would close the door to us and open the door for others like animals and homosexuals.''The woman said she dealt constantly with unwanted looks and remarks in public, and had learned to ignore others who criticised her dress."As an Australian, I have the freedom to wear what I want since I'm not hurting anyone,'' she said."I don't feel oppressed and I have never broken a law, so why should people criticise me when I chose to wear the burqa?''Zainab Boussi, 18, of Hurstville, chose to wear the hijab, a head covering, when she was 11 years old and first had to give her parents a reason why she wanted to wear it."For me, I think beauty should be kept between my family and me,'' Miss Boussi said."I find it liberating to talk to people knowing they're not judging me on my looks, rather on my personality.''While Miss Boussi and her sisters chose to not wear the burqa and cover their faces, the university student said she applauded the women who chose to wear it."These courageous women are brave to live their normal life in public,'' Miss Boussi said."People sometimes are afraid of seeing our dress, but at the end of the day if we cop stares or comments I just ignore them.''Miss Boussi said Mr Nile's bill to ban the burqa would have contradicted Australian democracy."We are a country that allows freedom of choice,'' Miss Boussi said."Everyone has a choice to wear what they want and it's a basic human right to follow your religion.''