LONDON: A Pakistan-born bishop in the UK has called for a near-total ban on wearing of burqas in public places in the country as he backed former British foreign secretary ‘s criticism of the practice, according to a media report.

Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said the burqas should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, doctors surgeries, universities and schools, Daily Express reported.

Earlier this month, Johnson triggered a controversy when he wrote in a newspaper column that women in burqas resemble “bank robbers” and “letter boxes.”

Ali said for “reasons of national security alone” the burqa should not be allowed in Parliament or even town halls.

“We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burqa and making an effective getaway,” he said.

He added: “It is true that some women choose to wear the burqa or niqab because they feel it makes them more observant Muslims. It is also true however that the burqa or niqab is being weaponised by Islamists to impose what they consider to be ‘Islamic‘ character on communities, neighbourhoods and even nations.”

The controversial call from the Pakistan-born bishop was backed by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Ali has earlier sparked controversy during his time as bishop between 1994 and 2009. He received death threats for saying in a newspaper that Islamic extremists created “no-go areas” for non-Muslims in Britain.

Ali was the first non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England. He was the 106th bishop at Rochester, the second oldest cathedral in the country.

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