The All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief today warned, in light of recent articles in the British press about the hijab, that questioning religious freedoms in the UK will damage the UK’s international standing:
“We are shocked and embarrassed by attempts this week in the UK press to question the right of women to wear the hijab on televison. Two columns in the Sun by its former editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, attacked the Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji for wearing the hijab – as she has for many years – during her coverage of the Nice terror attack. Others have followed by attempting to give these attacks respectability, claiming they are merely instigating a debate.
The APPG’s position is clear – there is no basis for limiting an individual’s religious freedoms on this basis in the UK. We work tirelessly to encourage governments and societies around the world to respect freedom of religion, especially for minorities. We believe it is a hallmark of democracy.
We are also concerned that efforts to manufacture a debate on the hijab in Britain will damage the work of the APPG and the UK government to protect religious freedoms abroad. The UK’s moral authority is at risk if it is perceived as failing to defend the religious freedoms of its own citizens.”