IN a recent opinion piece (QT 09/09) federal parliamentarian George Christensen quoted Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb to support his contention that the burqa or niqab is not a religious garment but a cultural one.
While it is true that Sheik el-Tayeb was quoted in a French newspaper as expressing this opinion, a modicum of research by Mr Christensen would have shown it is a view that is widely disputed by other senior Islamic scholars.
This difference of religious opinion simply reflects the different understandings of Islam within the Muslim community.
For this reason the Islamic High Council of Australia, which represents a wide variety of these understandings, has issued a fatwa saying that "it would be problematic for the government to pass a legislation that would prevent everyone from covering their faces whilst in public, including motorcyclists and some Muslim women who choose to cover their faces”.
Mr Christensen's claim that a single religious opinion reflects the beliefs of the whole Muslim community is akin to him claiming that the Pope's view on contraception commits all Christians.
It is pure misinformation designed to appeal to some sections of Mr Christensen's constituency.