Ukip's Lisa Duffy defends call for ban on Muslim veils in public places
A Ukip leadership candidate has rejected comparisons with Donald Trump and suggestions she is attacking a single minority after calling for Muslim veils to be banned in public places.
Lisa Duffy said she wanted to deal with people's fears about Islam by creating a "well-rounded community" with "one rule for all" by banning the veil in public buildings, shopping centres and on buses and trains.
Ms Duffy - who is backed by high-profile former Ukip spokeswoman Suzanne Evans - rejected a rival's suggestions that she was "chasing the bigot vote" and denied her rhetoric could fuel hate crime.
She also demanded the closure of Islamic faith schools until the problem of Islamist terrorism is dealt with, as well as a "complete and comprehensive ban" on sharia courts in the UK, warning of "parallel systems" and "separatism".
Ms Duffy claimed a ban on veils would work similarly to asking teenagers to remove hoods or motorcyclists to take off their helmets when in certain public places.
Answering questions from reporters after a central London speech, she said: "This is not about singling out.
"This is about working to make sure we have a well-rounded community, a community that has an opportunity for all.
"When I talk about the veil in public places, it's about one rule for all."
She added: "It's not about trying to drive hatred, it's not about trying to attack a minority."
Ms Duffy rejected comparisons with Mr Trump, the controversial Republican nominee in the US presidential election, and insisted she is trying to allay "unfair" fear directed at Muslims.
"I don't think I compare to Donald Trump at all," she said. "I'm very different to him.
"As Ukip leader, if I'm fortunate enough to get elected, I want us not to shy away from difficult issues and I'm not going to be hounded into a corner to be made to feel this is the wrong thing to talk about."
She added: "There is a fear out there and that is unfair on all Muslims.
"Most Muslims are good individuals, they work hard, they have great families and they contribute to our communities.
"This is about us working together to make sure there is an equality within faith groups and that they have the same freedoms that you and I both share."
Ms Duffy spoke after her fellow contender in the race to succeed Nigel Farage, MEP Bill Etheridge, said he did not want to focus "on small issues like Islam which makes us look small-minded - I'm not chasing the bigot vote".
She dismissed his comments as "trying to get some press off the back of my speech" and insisted Ukip is no longer seen as a racist party.
"Long ago are the days when people were hammering us and shouting that at us down the streets," said the Huntingdonshire district councillor.
In her speech, Ms Duffy said she wants to "set out a path of opportunity" for young Muslim women who were told by men what they should wear, what leisure activities they should pursue and even who they should marry.
She described the veil as "a symbol of aggressive separatism that can only foster extremism" and will claim that it is often "forced on women by men who view them as their property".
While stopping short of a complete ban on the veil, Ms Duffy said that, under her leadership, Ukip would advocate a "show your face in public" policy.
Ms Duffy will say the rule should apply "just as much to the retinues accompanying Middle Eastern princes to London as it will to Muslim women living in Britain" and that it should not be regarded as Islamophobic for someone to politely request a woman to remove a veil in public.
"Why should I, as a white, Christian woman, effectively enjoy greater civil and human rights and freedoms than others?" she asked. "My ambition is that everyone, from every community, should be able to enjoy the same rights and have the same independent control over their lives and their bodies as I do."
Ms Duffy and Mr Etheridge are among a field of six candidates on the ballot paper in a race from which early favourites like Ms Evans and Steven Woolfe have been excluded.
The victor will be announced at Ukip's annual conference in Bournemouth on September 15.
At his leadership launch in Manchester, Mr Etheridge backed a ban on the burka - the veil which fully covers the face and body - but said Ms Duffy was wrong to talk about wider reform of Islam in Britain.
He said: "For Lisa to say she's going to create a new form of British Islam, she's going to change the way that things work - well I didn't notice her studying as an imam.
"So I think that maybe it would be best if the state and those who seek to govern the state simply set the criteria that we can all live as freely as possible and we allow the religious authorities and individuals to sort their own religion, as long as it works within a framework where nobody feels that they are being intimidated over any issue on either side.
"I don't think we need to get too far into focusing entirely on Islam as one issue, we are not small-minded and petty people, this is not a small-minded party."
He also called for a flatter tax system with loopholes exploited by tax avoiders removed, and hit out at "sin taxes" on alcohol and cigarettes as he pledged to "cement" libertarianism within Ukip.