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It stops them taking part in education and reaching their potential, and the idea that tiny children need to protect their modesty is abhorrent.And behind the closed doors of some Muslim houses, countless young women are told to wear the and the veil.President Sarkozy is absolutely right to say: 'If you want to live here, live like us.' He went on to say that the burkha is not a religious sign, 'it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement...

In hardline Muslim communities right across Britain, the burkha and hijab - the Muslim headscarf - are becoming the norm.

In the predominantly Muslim enclaves of Derby near my childhood home, you now see women hidden behind the full-length robe, their faces completely shielded from view.

For the sake of women and children, the Government must ban the wearing of the hijab in school and the burkha in public places.

To do so is not racist, as extremists would have us believe.

But it is particularly wrong in Britain, where it is alien to the mainstream culture for someone to walk around wearing a mask. It stops them achieving their full potential in all areas of their life, and it stops them communicating.

It sends out a clear message: 'I do not want to be part of your society.' Every time the burkha is debated, Muslim fundamentalists bring out all these women who say: 'It's my choice to wear this.' Perhaps so - but what pressures have been brought to bear on them?The burkha is the ultimate visual symbol of female oppression.It is the weapon of radical Muslim men who want to see Sharia law on Britain's streets, and would love women to be hidden, unseen and unheard. Precisely because it is impossible to distinguish between the woman who is choosing to wear a burkha and the girl who has been forced to cover herself and live behind a veil, I believe it should be banned.Thanks to fundamentalist Muslims and 'hate' preachers working in Britain, the veiling of women is suddenly all-pervasive and promoted as a basic religious right.We are led to believe that we must live with this in the name of 'tolerance'.For decades, Muslim fundamentalists, using the human rights laws, have been allowed to get their own way.