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British support ban on 'burqa' and 'burkini', according to poll

YouGov says majority would support bans similar to those in France, but level of support has been falling over last decade
A woman wears a veil in France (AFP)

The majority of British people would support a ban on the "burqa", while nearly half would back a ban on the "burkini" swimsuit, according to a survey by the polling group YouGov.

Some 57 percent of the 1,668 adults polled by YouGov said they supported "a law that bans people from wearing the burqa in the UK", with 36 percent "strongly supporting" the ban compared with only 10 percent who were "strongly opposed".

The poll follows a row in France about the banning of the burkini in around 30 coastal resorts in the Riviera. The country's highest administrative court later suspended the ruling after it was challenged by rights groups.

Some 46 percent of British people would support a similar ban on the "burkini", against 30 percent who were opposed, with 18 percent neither for or against.

The questions used in the poll described the "burqa" as "a loose item of clothing worn... for the purpose of hiding a female's body and face when out in public". 

The "burkini", an all-body swimsuit with a hood, is incorrectly described as "sometimes worn... for the purpose of hiding a female's body and face". The garment does not cover the face.

A similar poll by YouGov for the Sun newspaper, in 2013, found that 61 percent of respondents supported a ban on the "burqa" - higher than the 2016 survey, and down on the 66 percent support in a poll in 2011.

In 2016, support for the ban on the "burka" was uniform across supporters of all political parties, although strongest among Conservative and UK Independence Party backers.

The only demographics to oppose the ban were 18-24 year-olds - by a margin of six percent - and those who voted to remain in the European Union, but only by a margin of three percent.

A similar YouGov survey in Germany found 62 percent in support of a burqa ban, but another in the United States found that 59 percent believed "people should be allowed to decide for themselves what to wear."