A member of the public has expressed their outrage over a discriminatory sign outside of a local convenience store which called for the removal of the burqa before entry.
The sign, which reads, “All hoodies, burkas and motorcycle helmets must be removed before entering the shop”, was spotted in the North Warwickshire area last week.
The witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, informed Tell MAMA that the sign had been there for ‘several weeks’ but no complaints, to their knowledge, have been lodged.
This sign may contravene the Equality Act 2010, which stipulates that indirect forms of discrimination, which concern the actions of a service provider, who, in applying a rule for all its customers disadvantages people because of their identity (protected characteristic), according to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Harassment, be it in written or verbal forms, targeted at a protected characteristic of an individual or group, would also be unlawful if covered by the Equality Act, including when receiving goods or services, per the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
There are, however, exceptions in the law, if there are genuine, proportional, necessary, and legitimate reasons behind the discrimination.
Tell MAMA has observed a rise in reports of discrimination since 2015, with an increase by 111.76% in just two years, with 34 verified reports of discrimination in 2015, compared to 72 reports in 2017, with 40 verified reports of discrimination in the first six months of 2018.
In partnership with the GMB trade union, Tell MAMA has produced an anti-discrimination toolkit to address discriminatory behaviours and practices in the workplace.
Examples of such discriminatory actions include school staff informing two Muslim women, wear the niqab, to remove their niqabs when attending school open days with their children for ‘security reasons’. A clear example of how ‘othering’ can result in viewing Muslims through the lens of ‘securitisation’.
The burqa, often confused with the niqab, due in part to a reliance on stock imagery in the parts of the media, is worn by small minorities of Muslim women in parts of Europe, but legislation in several countries, including France and the Netherlands has placed restrictions on wearing such clothing in public. The United Nations Human Rights Committee found that France had violated the human rights of two Muslim by fining them for wearing the niqab in public in October. We believe in the fundamental right to practise religious beliefs, suffice that they are not actively harmful to others, free from bigotry, hatred, or violence. This freedom extends to the right to wear religious clothing, the right to speak openly about your beliefs or to partake in religious worship.
Tell MAMA saw a sharp and temporary spike in reports from Muslim women, who wear either the hijab or niqab, following the comments from the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson concerning the niqab. In one example, a Muslim woman, who wears the niqab, was called a ‘postbox’, as another Muslim woman was told she should ‘be shot’ because of her niqab.