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Malaysia should not criticise burqa ban

Written by: Staff
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AMSTERDAM, Nov 21: Malaysia's criticism of a Dutch plan to ban the wearing of burqas and other face veils in public needs to be questioned, Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders was quoted as saying.

Wilders yesterday said Malaysia's foreign minister, Syed Hamid Albar, who also serves as chairman of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, needed to be warned about interfering in the affairs of another nation, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

Last week, the Dutch government agreed on a total ban on the wearing of burqas and other face veils in public on security grounds.

Wilders, who proposed the ban nearly a year ago, called on Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk and Foreign Minister Bernard Bot to summon the Malaysian ambassador for questioning.

The Netherlands would be the first European state to impose a countrywide ban on face coverings, though other countries have already outlawed them in specific places.

Dutch media see Wilders, facing death threats from radical Muslims for his proposals to stop Muslim immigration and ban the building of mosques and religious schools, as the heir to murdered populist Pim Fortuyn.

He formed a one-man party and is running for re-election in general elections on Wednesday.

The election campaign has focused so far on issues like the economy rather than immigration because most mainstream parties have hardened their stances in recent years.

Social and religious tensions have escalated in the last few years, exacerbated by the murder of film director and Islam critic Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-Moroccan militant in 2004.

REUTERS

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