Australia Restricts Burqas in Parliament House Public Galleries

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Burqa-clad women wanting to observe parliamentary proceedings in Australia will be forced to watch in glass enclosures away from other members of the public under new rules issued today.

The move comes a day after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he found the Islamic burqa — a head-to-feet loose garment worn by some Muslim women in public — “confronting” and believed it should be removed in public buildings that are subject to security checks, including Parliament House.

“Persons with facial coverings entering the galleries of the House of Representatives and Senate will be seated in the enclosed galleries,” the Department of Parliamentary Services said in an e-mailed statement.

Australia raised its terrorism alert to the highest level in a decade last month, citing the threat posed by supporters of Islamic State, and days later police carried out their largest anti-terrorism raid, foiling an alleged beheading plot. The nation, which will host leaders of the Group of 20 economies at a summit in Brisbane in November, is backing U.S. President Barack Obama’s coalition against Islamic State.

Abbott said yesterday it was “perfectly appropriate that in certain circumstances people may be required to show their face” such as in the courts, Parliament House or other secure, public buildings.

“The presiding officers have indicated that their first priority is the safety of Parliament House, particularly its occupants,” the Department of Parliamentary Services said today. “As such, they have approved further changes to access arrangements for the private areas of Parliament House and also to the chamber galleries, in light of the increased threat environment.”

Source: Bloomberg News

www.shafaqna.com/english

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