UK watchdog: Muslim veil debate could spark riots

October 22, 2006 14:18

The heated debate over veils that cover the faces of some British Muslim women is growing ugly and could trigger riots, the head of Britain's race relations watchdog warned Sunday. Britons are becoming increasingly polarized along racial and religious lines, and if they don't talk respectfully about their differences, bad feeling will mount and could fuel unrest, Commission for Racial Equality chairman Trevor Phillips wrote in The Sunday Times newspaper. An angry debate "is the last thing Britain needs," wrote Phillips, whose commission is an independent, government-funded body created by law in 1976 and charged with fighting discrimination and encouraging good race relations. "This could be the trigger for the grim spiral that produced riots in the north of England five years ago. Only this time the conflict would be much worse. We need to chill," he wrote.

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