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Should burkas be banned in the UK?
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Ski masks and helmets are also banned in some locations

You can't walk into a bank wearing a ski mask or a helmet. You shouldn't be allowed to wear a burka either.


When motorcyclists enter a petrol station, they are often asked to remove their helmet. This is for identification purposes and in the interests of safety. An unidentifiable person is a greater risk to the safety of the cashier, shopgoers, and assets of the shop. The same applies to anyone trying to enter a bank in a ski mask or any other covering that could hide their identity.

The Argument

If we accept that some places, including banks, require the removal of head coverings that could make it difficult to determine someone's identity, why do we not require the removal of the burka in these places? We require people to refrain from covering their faces to discourage and prevent theft. Whether someone is covering their face for religious reasons or to keep their face warm, for practical reasons (because taking the helmet off might be impractical), or for personal modesty to cover a facial disfigurement, it doesn't matter. If forcing people to show their identity in a location that is prone to theft and other crimes will make the location safer, they should be able to do so. Currently, the law does not allow a bank manager to force someone to remove their religious covering. Only the police may do so if they suspect it is being used as a disguise.[1] A ban on burkas in a place where a concealed identity could pose an increased risk of theft or criminal behaviour should be implemented.

Counter arguments

There is a difference between someone choosing to wear a ski mask or helmet into a bank or petrol station, and someone wearing a burka because it is an essential part of their religious beliefs. Asking someone to remove their optional face covering does not infringe their rights to express their religion. Forcing someone to remove their burka does. If identifying the wearer of the burka is essential (as it sometimes is in airport immigration), they can do so by simply taking the wearer to a private place and having a female officer look under the veil. Handling it in this way, instead of a blanket ban on wearing burkas in banks or petrol stations, would preserve the wearer's right to their religious freedoms, without compromising the safety of bank employees.



[P1] Banks and petrol stations are allowed to ask customers to remove head coverings like helmets and ski masks to protect themselves from theft. [P2] As burkas cover a citizens face and conceal the appearance of those beneath they should not be exempt. [P3] Therefore, burkas should be banned from these places.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] A burka is a religious requirement, a ski mask or helmet is an optional clothing item. [Rejecting P3] A ban is needless and unnecessary. There are other ways of protecting both the individual's right to religious freedom and the employee's safety.


This page was last edited on Monday, 5 Oct 2020 at 07:31 UTC

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