The British Prime Minister Tony Blair has backed his ex-minister for Foreign Affairs in the row over Muslim veils. Jack Straw, now the leader of the lower House of Parliament, suggested that Muslim women who wore veils made community relations more difficult. During the course of an interview, Blair said Straw had raised an important issue in a “sensible and measured” way. But he stopped short of clarifying whether he himself preferred women to remove their veils during conversation.
Straw’s comments triggered anger from Muslim groups and were applauded by right-wing newspapers. Unlike some other European countries, like officially secular France which limits the wearing of traditional headscarves in schools, the UK does not place restrictions on Islamic dress.