A SCOTTISH Muslim writer who has received death threats for repeatedly criticising Islamic doctrine wants women to be banned from wearing the “oppressive” burqa.

Paigham Mustafa, who claims to be living under a fatwa issued in 2001 by Glasgow imams after he published articles questioning mosque teachings, made the controversial comments after Austria became the latest European country to prohibit face veils in public.

From the beginning of this month Muslim women in Austria who wear a veil which covers the face will be fined around £130. Similar restrictions are in place in France, Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. And last week Quebec became the first North American province to ban citizens from wearing face coverings in public places.

Mustafa insists burqas are “bizarre and cruel” and said wearing it is not an obligation in the Koran.

Prominent Scots Muslim women have hit back saying it is up to women to decide how they dress.

Mustafa said: “I sincerely hope that Britain also introduces a ban similar to that in Austria. I know that many Muslim women here would benefit if the UK were to outlaw this peculiar and oppressive form of clothing. Sadly, it has wrongly become a symbol of Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“To hide the body in a tent-like gown and obscure facial features is as bizarre as it is cruel, especially when women are indoctrinated to falsely believe it is God who decrees such a shroud.

“The real reason has more to do with the fact that their men are insecure and harbour a deep distrust of their women.”

Robina Qureshi, director of refugee charity Positive Action in Housing, said: “What a woman wears is a woman's choice, that’s her business. So long as that is the case, who is anyone to say how anyone else should or should not dress.”

Mustafa also drew criticism from Glasgow Councillor Soryia Siddique, who chooses to wear a hijab – a headscarf worn by Muslim women which does not cover the face.

She said: “How people from any faith or none choose to dress is their own choice. Surely in the 21st century how women choose to dress is their inclusive freedom of choice? Men dictating or debating how women should, can or cannot dress can be viewed as oppressive…let women make their own choices, after all there is no compulsion in religion, according to Islam.”

Liaquat Ali of the Muslim Council of Scotland insisted women should be allowed to wear a veil “if they freely decide to do so”.

He said MCS recognises “there are different theological approaches…some consider this to be essential part of their faith, while others do not”.

Only one verse in Koran mentions women covering up, according to Mustafa

Paigham Mustafa argues the wearing of a face veil is not an obligation found in the Koran. He said there is only one verse in the Koran – in chapter 71:7 – that mentions people completely covering themselves, but he said they are “only those who want to hide and wish to avoid the truth”.

Mustafa said: “In Pakistani cities like Lahore and Karachi, prostitutes dress in burqas to ply their trade by the roadside, even in daylight hours – but only to avoid recognition.

“There is no clothing that can be termed as 'Islamic' or 'unIslamic'. The Koran does not promote any particular traditional or tribal clothing and allows freedom of dress in line with modesty for both for women and men.”