“It is quite clear that the problems we have in Britain are not because Muslims wish to be separate … I think the entire debate has been totally lopsided as though Muslims were somehow at fault for this,” Mr Livingstone said.
“That echoes very much the demonology of Nazi Germany when Hitler said it was the Jews’ fault and the problems were brought upon themselves. There is a faint echo of that in a lot of the rubbish we have been seeing in the media recently.”
Daniela Santanche recently published a critical book on living conditions for Muslim women called Woman Denied…
“A veil,” she said, “is never a symbol of liberty and it is not required in religion”.
“And in our country,” she went on, “there is a law which forbids – for reason of terrorism – people to go around with masks on”.
Her comments brought a furious response from the imam who appeared alongside her.
Ali Abu Shwaima, from a mosque near Milan, called her an infidel.
“I will not allow the ignorant to talk about Islam,” he said. “The veil is an obligation required by God.”
Ms Santanche has now been offered police protection for her own safety.
Anne Applebaum explains the problem with the veil:
[A]t a much simpler level, surely it is also true that the full-faced veil — the niqab, burqa or chador — causes such deep reactions in the West not so much because of its political or religious symbolism but because it is extremely impolite. Just as it is considered rude to enter a Balinese temple wearing shorts, so, too, is it considered rude, in a Western country, to hide one’s face. We wear masks when we want to frighten, when we are in mourning or when we want to conceal our identities. To a Western child — or even an adult — a woman clad from head to toe in black looks like a ghost. Thieves and actors hide their faces in the West; honest people look you straight in the eye.