It is telling that the British people, deservedly known for their tolerance, now want to ban the burka.
The wearing of Islamic full-body clothing has been in the spotlight after parts of France banned the burkini, which is a swimsuit version of the dress.
Now a survey by the reputable YouGov pollsters has found that 57% of people support a ban on the wearing of the burka, against 25% who oppose it – more than two to one against.
The survey shatters assumptions that might be made about such views. Almost as many young people (34%) back a ban as oppose it (40%). Support was highest among Ukip voters (84%) but almost half of Labour voters back a ban, as do 42% of Liberal Democrats, a party outspoken on civil liberty.
And women are about as likely to support a ban as men. So it cannot be said that support for a ban is the preserve of older, reactionary men. Many people of all ages and social classes fear that some Muslims have become semi-detached from mainstream values and they blame a free-for-all multiculturalism that refused to insist on immigrant groups adhering to certain basic British values if they resettle in this great nation.
Across Europe people see that a core of Islamic fanatics who were born into the freedoms and privileges of western societies go abroad for jihad or support terror at home. And they are rejecting the fact that “we are all to blame” for this. They spurn elitists who refer to extremism, but refuse to add the word Islamic in front of it, as if they might be Buddhist.
In Northern Ireland, we must never lose our sense of outrage at where such muddled thinking led us last year: Pastor James McConnell put in the dock after a complaint about his sermon by an Islamic activist who praised the ‘peace’ brought about in Mosul by the mass murdering fanatics of Isis, who – thank goodness – are being violently displaced from some of the places where they have implemented their barbarism.
A ban on the burka is a step too far, given that we remain such a free and tolerant and diverse UK. But we must urgently come to understand why it has so much support.