A Georgia legislator who proposed a new law on Wednesday to ban the Muslim burqa withdrew the measure late Thursday, WSB-TV 2 Atlanta reports.
Republican state Rep. Jason Spencer introduced a bill — HB 3 — that would have banned Muslim women from wearing burqas, hijabs and niqabs on public streets and public property. All three are traditional Muslim coverings.
Spencer wanted to amend the state’s existing precepts against the Ku Klux Klan that prevent members from concealing their identities under hoods. He said the legislation was “simply a response to constituents that do have concerns of the rise of Islamic terrorism, and we in the State of Georgia do not want our laws used against us.”
But Spencer was apparently not prepared for the storm of protest that erupted within hours of his announcement.
Pro-Muslim organizations said the bill was redundant because “The bill is a bad solution to a non-existent problem,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell with the Council on American Muslim Relations. “Very few Georgia Muslim women wear face veils, but those who do have a Constitutional right to do so.”
Spencer decided Thursday to withdraw the bill because he did not believe it would withstand “political scrutiny.”
“I have decided to not pursue HB 3 in the upcoming 2017 legislative session due to the visceral reaction it has created While this bill does not contain language that specifically targets any group, I am mindful of the perception that it has created. My objective was to address radical elements that could pose a threat to public safety … anti-masking statutes have been upheld as constitutional (State v Miller, 1990), and HB 3 would withstand legal scrutiny, but not political scrutiny.”