Candidates for Ukip leadership adopt different approaches to Islam


A Ukip leadership candidate is calling for the Muslim veil to be banned in public buildings, shopping centres and on buses and trains.

Lisa Duffy will also demand the closure of Islamic faith schools until the problem of Islamist terrorism is dealt with, as well as a "complete and comprehensive ban" on sharia courts in the UK.

In a speech in London, Ms Duffy will say her proposals are designed to foster integration, arguing that "Muslims who were born in this country ... are as British as I am and I simply want them to feel as British as I do".

But a rival in the race to succeed Nigel Farage will warn Ukip against focusing its efforts on issues like Islam, warning it risks being seen as "small-minded" if it chases "the bigot vote".

Launching his own leadership campaign in Manchester, Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge will say: "I am proposing that as a party we focus on our policies, cementing libertarianism into our DNA.

"That means not focusing on small issues like Islam which makes us look small-minded - I'm not chasing the bigot vote."

Ms Duffy - who is backed by high-profile former Ukip spokeswoman Suzanne Evans - will say she wants to "set out a path of opportunity" for young Muslim women who were told by men what they should wear, what leisure activities they should pursue and even who they should marry.

"Why should I, as a white, Christian woman, effectively enjoy greater civil and human rights and freedoms than others?" the Huntingdonshire district councillor will ask. "My ambition is that everyone, from every community, should be able to enjoy the same rights and have the same independent control over their lives and their bodies as I do."

She will describe the veil as "a symbol of aggressive separatism that can only foster extremism" and will claim that it is often "forced on women by men who view them as their property".

While stopping short of a complete ban on the veil, Ms Duffy said that under her leadership, Ukip would advocate a "show your face in public" policy.

"On our public transport networks, in public buildings, banks, stores and shopping precincts - all those places where teenagers are told to take their hoodies down and where motorcyclists are expected to remove their helmets - it is only reasonable to expect everyone to show their faces," she will say.

"Again, it is about making sure there is one law for all, rather than making an exception for a community because we are frightened of causing offence. There is no offence to be taken if all are treated equally."

Ms Duffy will say the rule should apply "just as much to the retinues accompanying Middle Eastern princes to London as it will to Muslim women living in Britain" and that it should not be regarded as Islamophobic for someone to politely request a woman to remove a veil in public.

"I have a positive vision for British Islam where girls can grow up with equal rights to men and be given the rights of self-determination the rest of us take for granted," she is expected to say.

Meanwhile, Mr Etheridge will position himself as the "unity candidate" in a contest taking place amid increasingly vitriolic disputes between supporters of Mr Farage and backers of the party's only MP Douglas Carswell.

At his campaign launch, the Dudley borough councillor is expected to say: "I do not want the party to scurry to the centre and abandon the values we as a party are supposed to promote, like a small state, low taxes and individual liberties. It is our difference which is our strength."

Ms Duffy and Mr Etheridge are among a field of six candidates on the ballot paper in a race from which early favourites like Ms Evans and Steven Woolfe have been excluded. The victor will be announced at Ukip's annual conference in Bournemouth on September 15.