The news that France imposed a ban on wearing burkas in public has sparked off fresh debate on the subject in a number of countries. It has also stoked up the debate about immigration in countries like Britain.
The immigration minister for Britain, Damian Green said that to place a ban on burkas would be “rather un-British” and run contrary to the conventions of a “tolerant and mutually respectful society”. He said it would be “undesirable” for Parliament to vote on a burka ban in Britain and that there was no prospect of the Coalition proposing it.
He added that this summer would see a major crackdown on the main streams of illegal immigration — including sham marriages, illegal workers and people trafficking — and confirmed that this autumn the Government would set an overall cap on migrants entering Britain from outside the European Union.
The minister admits that other countries hold the view that Britain’s borders are not very well defended and that, if you can get into the country, it’s relatively easy to operate there, to work illegally and so on.
It seems that Mr Green is right; the new head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) says that Britain was the most welcoming country in Europe for Muslims. He pointed to the spread of mosques and sharia, or Islamic law, as positive signs of the greater freedom Muslims are given in this country.
That is all well and good and perhaps we should applaud Britain for being such a tolerant country. There is a difference though between being tolerant and being a “soft touch” and I sense that many now feel that Britain is a soft touch. It is certainly a different country to the one I grew up in.