A Muslim women's group has come out publicly opposing the wearing of the burqa, further fuelling the debate around the Islamic veil.

The Sisters in Islam say Islam has no laws making wearing of the full veil compulsory, with the group's founder, Zainah Anwar, describing the burqa as "an affront to human dignity" for women who wear it.

However Malaysian businessman Zulkifli Hamzah, who is in Auckland to help set up a Muslim "Obedient Wives Club" branch, said followers of Islam understood "women and men are not equals".

"If a woman is told to wear a burqa or hijab so she does not tempt other men, then she should obey."


Herald readers are divided on whether the burqa should be allowed in New Zealand society.

"Burquas, niqabs or any form of form of head covering are not required in Islam. The Quran definitely does not refer to any of this directly. Saying respecting women who were burquas is respecting religious beliefs is misled. In saying that, [New Zealanders strongly believe in freedom of expression and a ban on face/body covering garments will never be implemented," Francis wrote.

Andrew Aitkin said the veil is "ridiculous", unless you want to rob a bank.

"Humans have evolved with facial-recognition systems for a reason. Burqas interfere with basic communications, and are literally dehumanising. Sometimes tradition needs to get over itself."

Leanne Wech said the women speaking out on the burqa "are very brave and progressive in their thinking".

"The women's group opposing the wearing of the burqa brought up some interesting points that I a western women felt very sorry for them about, in particular that if they don't [wear] the burqa that they are deemed not a good Muslim, I hope that these women are heard and understood."

Deemac agreed.

"I'm glad this group has spoken out. Islam does not require women to cover their faces, a few ultra-reactionary cultures do. It is no disrespect to Islam to outlaw the burqa and similar veils. You cannot participate in a modern democracy if you hide your face."


Ma said it was great New Zealand is so open minded wearing of a burqa, and other religions.

"However, these people come to this country for a better way of life, so I am unsure of how bringing their values and culture to this degree is going to help them live better lives."

Gandalf is not a fan of the burqa, but said it should be allowed.

"It's arguably a horrible, oppressive garment from a very conservative society, but I don't think you ban it. That's sinking to the level of the moslems who strictly control what people wear. Just pass a law that the face veil be removed in appropriate situations like in a bank. Australia does all this."

Small govt is good said the burqa should be allowed people want to wear it.

"People don't have to agree or like it but wearing clothes is a personal choice Although not wearing any at all, at least in public, strangely is not. This does not however mean a burqa or niqab clad person is exempt from security requirements in banks, airports etc."