By Eeyore | January 14, 2009
A RADIO announcer’s call for a ban on Islamic hijabs has been backed by the National Retailers Association. The peak national body has called for all hijabs, helmets and hoodies to be banned in shops and banks for security purposes.
Brisbane radio presenter Michael Smith angered listeners after calling for Muslim women who wear a hijab to be fined. The 4BC drive presenter said on Wednesday that wearing the hijab or burka posed a security risk because it obscured the face, making it difficult to identify the wearer in the instance of a crime. Smith said it should be made an offence.
Retailers association executive director Scott Driscoll said it had been a long accepted practice to require customers to remove helmets and other identity obscuring headwear when entering a shop or bank.
“Retailers should not have to fear any form of retribution or backlash for requiring the removal of any obscuring headwear, including hijabs, as a condition of entry,” Mr Driscoll said. “This is about ensuring a more safe and secure retail environment for all and being able to readily identify any and all perpetrators of armed hold-ups or shop theft.”
Islamic Council of Queensland president Suliman Sabdia said he was disappointed by Smith’s remarks. “He has every right to say it but we do say he displays intolerance, and a complete lack of understanding of the Muslim code of conduct,” Mr Sabdia said.
He said he did not think Mr Smith should be fired, instead inviting him to a meeting to discuss the issues. “Does revenge really, at the end of the day, solve anything? No,” he said. “We forgive him for his lack of understanding, we pray that God almighty gives him the wisdom and the understanding to respect every other individual.”
A poll on the station’s website today asking, “Should we impose restrictions on the wearing of burkas in Australia?” had a yes result of 76 per cent, and 23 per cent no, at 10am (AEST).