By a margin of more than two to one, the public wants to ban people from wearing the burka
Over the last few weeks France has been consumed by a heated debate on Islamic dress after the mayors of more than 30 seaside towns instituted a ban on burkinis at their beaches. The ban was later struck down by the country's high court, but the debate has exposed significant cultural tensions in French society. Former president, and current presidential candidate, Nicholas Sarkozy promising to change the French constitution to ban burkinis should he be elected next year. Sarkozy instituted a ban on burkas and niqabs while he was in power.
Here in Britain, banning the burka is a topic of discussion in the UKIP leadership contest after candidate Lisa Duffy called for a ban on wearing them in public places. New research from YouGov suggests this would be a popular policy with a majority of the public (57%) supporting a ban on wearing the burka in the UK, whilst just 25% are against outlawing it.
Although proponents of a ban suggest it as a way of helping to promote women’s rights, the research shows that women are about as likely to support a ban as men (56% and 58% respectively). Support for a ban rises as people get older, with just 34% of 18-24 year older supporting the ban, rising to 78% of those aged 65 or older. Working class people are also more likely to support the ban than middle class people (61% vs 54%).
A burka ban is supported by 84% of all 2015 UKIP voters and 66% of Conservatives. Fewer than half of Labour (48%) and Lib Dem (42%) voters support the ban, but it is still a more popular choice than opposing the ban (37% and 30% respectively).
There are only two demographic groups that are more likely to oppose a ban than support it: 18-24 year olds and Remain voters. Even then the numbers are relatively closely – Remain voters are net opposed to the ban by just 3%, whilst 18-24 year olds are 6% net opposed to the ban.
Looking at attitudes to burkinis, again the UK is more in favour of banning them, although less strongly – 46% of people would support a burkini ban and 30% would oppose one.
Looking elsewhere, YouGov has found a similar level of support for a burka ban in Germany (62% supporting a ban and 27% opposing), whilst in the US a ban is strongly opposed, with 59% of people opposing the ban and just 27% supporting it. (Please note that the question asked in Germany and the US was different to the one asked in the UK survey).