A KIRKLEES Muslim councillor who stood against Jack Straw at the last election says the Cabinet minister is wrong to ask women to remove their veils.
Clr Imtiaz Ameen, a Tory in Dewsbury South, said the views of the Blackburn MP and former Foreign Secretary were inconsistent with freedom and liberty.
Clr Ameen said: "In a free society we cannot dictate what people choose to wear except in selective and controlled environments such as schools, hospitals and the workplace.
"Outside of the controlled environment, everyone is free to dress as they please.
"There is no universal dress code for being British. Equally there is no dress code which symbolises anti-Britishness - yet that is what Jack Straw seems to suggest."
He said Mr Straw completely missed the point in his belief that Muslim women wore veils because they chose not to integrate.
"A Muslim woman covering her face will do so in front of all men except her immediate family, regardless of whether they are Muslims, not as a sign of segregation but out of modesty.
"That is her prerogative and something she chooses to do."
Clr Ameen came second to Mr Straw in Blackburn in the 2005 election, gaining 9,553 votes against the Labour MP's 17,562.
He said: "No matter how detrimental it maybe, in a free society we cannot force anyone to integrate if they refuse to do so.
"This is a problem which is vexing all political parties who are desperately seeking satisfactory solutions, but for which there is no quick fix.
"There are as many non-Muslims who refuse to integrate with Muslims as there are Muslims who refuse to integrate with non-Muslims. I see this on a daily basis in my ward.
"The challenge in a free society is to build better relations between different groups to ensure future generations as well as existing ones are more accepting of each other and are prepared to live in a friendly and cordial environment.
"It is not to dictate dress codes or allow pre-existing prejudices to be casually aired, especially by those who hold power."