THE decision made by the French parliament to support legislation which will outlaw the wearing of the burka and niqab in public places in France has both positive and negative aspects to it.

Many Muslim women are forced to wear the dress against their will by their overpowering families. It can be oppressive, humiliating, violating and imprisoning, and can cause the women beneath the veil to disengage from society and become withdrawn. The law will serve to liberate these women.

However, many Muslim women claim to wear the burka and niqab out of choice, arguing that it makes them feel safe, dignified, and in some cases empowered. The law will strip them of this right to choose.

In the UK, Conservative backbencher Philip Hollobone last week called for a burka and niqab ban, tabling a Private Members’ Bill that would make it illegal for anyone to cover their face in public.

The move is antagonistic and will further serve to inflame the tension already prevalent between the West and Islam today.

That aside, surely introducing such a ban is oppressive in itself as it prevents Muslim women from choosing what to wear.

Making a particular type of dress mandatory, or making it outlawed, is wrong. The law should not be used to proscribe how people must or must not dress.

A blanket ban on the burka and niqab is not the answer.