Despite the ongoing media focus on the story, there has been very little polling on attitudes towards Muslim women wearing the veil. Now up on MORI’s website is the most detailed questionaire we have so far, undertaken for ITV’s Tonight with Trevor MacDonald.

51% of people thought that Straw’s comments would damage race relations in Britain – but they thought he was right to say them. The poll found strong support for Jack Straw’s comments – 59% of people thought he was right to do so, and 58% thought the veil was a visible statement of separation and difference. However, as with ICM’s poll last weekend while they agreed with Straw’s comments, there was very little appetite for actually legislating against the wearing of veils – 77% thought it was womens’ right to chose to do so, with only 16% disagreeing.

While agreeing in principle with Muslim women being allowed to wear the while, when it came to specific cases there was less support. 60% of people thought that schoolchildren should be allowed to wear Islamic clothing (although the question mentioned headscarves and did not specifically mention the veil) with only 33% opposed. 52% of people said they would be happy to see a doctor who wore the veil (42% were opposed). Only 35% thought teachers should be allowed to wear a veil, with 54% opposed. 32% thought television newsreaders wearing a veil would be acceptable (59% were opposed). The strongest opposition was to the idea of a Muslim policewomen wearing a veil, only 29% of people thought this should be allowed, with 61% opposed.


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