Britain's Straw Starts Veil Controversy

Jack Straw, leader of Britain's House of Commons, is being criticized for suggesting that Muslim women remove their veils in public.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Muslim groups in Britain have been criticizing the former British foreign secretary, Jack Straw. They're criticizing him because he asked Muslim women to remove their veils when they met with him in his office.

Straw is now leader of the House of Commons, and he represents a heavily Muslim district in northwestern England. On Thursday he wrote in a newspaper column that he finds it difficult to talk with someone whose face he cannot see.

He wrote: I defend absolutely the right of any woman to wear a headscarf. The value of a meeting as opposed to a letter or phone call is so that you can almost literally see what the other person means, not just hear what they say.

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