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Debate: Does the Freedom to Wear Burkas Empower Women?

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By far, one of the most hotly debated apparel issues in Europe today is a government's jurisdiction over women wearing burkas—the face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women. France's lower house of parliament has recently passed a burka ban and Spain and Belgium are currently embroiled in the same vote.

In the UK, factions of the Tory party have been trying to ban the burka, bringing the hotly contested issue to front pages of the country's newspapers. "This is Britain," said Philip Hollobone, a Tory MP who said he would refuse to meet with any constituents wearing burkas. "We are not a Muslim country. Covering your face in public is strange, and to many people both intimidating and offensive." According to surveys, 67% of British voters are in favor of a burka ban.

On the other end of the debate, Immigration Minister Damian Green argued that a burka ban would be "rather un-British," and "run contrary to the conventions of a 'tolerant and mutually respectful society.'" Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman argues that women are "empowered" by the "freedom to wear the face coverings," reports the Daily Mail. Wearing the veil "confers dignity" on women.

I don't, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can't wear. I've been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result of actually visiting why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.

It is part of their culture, it is part of understanding that they choose to go out in the burka and I think those that live in this country, if they choose to wear a burka, should be free to do so.

We are a free country, we attach importance to people being free and for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning when you wake up what you wear.

What do you think: Should the government be able to legislate what you wear? Would you support a ban on burkas in the United States? Let's take to the polls, shall we? And let us know what you think in the comments.

Poll results

· Burkas empower women: Female Cabinet minister insists freedom to wear Muslim veil is a right [Daily Mail]