Birmingham actor Adil Ray joins veil row, saying identifying students at city college is ‘common sense’
Birmingham actor Adil Ray, who plays Citizen Khan in the BBC’s Asian community sitcom, last night weighed into the controversy surrounding a city college’s failed attempt to ban face veils – and said girls SHOULD show their faces.
The 39-year-old star said that although Birmingham Metropolitan College’s ban had been overturned, it was only “common sense” that anyone entering school premises should be easily identifiable.
Ray, whose series returns on Friday despite criticism for its portrayal of Asians, said: “Everyone is getting the issue wrong. It is very clear to me that this is about ID, not religion.
“It’s about being open with your ID. Airports have to be open about our ID. Within a college or university, girls should make their identity clear.
“If I wore a veil and was going to a school to pick up my child, I would like a teacher to ask if it’s really me.
“There must be a system in place at schools for that – but I don’t know what it is.
“But very quickly the rhetoric from the Government and media is ‘ban the veil’. Nobody is asking for that.
“I am sure some radio stations only bring the subject up because they know they will get 50 calls a minute about it.
“And so it quickly becomes a debate about religion.
“If you talk about Islam and Muslims it will get people’s backs up and we’re never going to get anywhere fast.
“I don’t know people who wear the veil, and you have to remember they are individuals.
“But it has to be about identity, and common sense has to prevail.”
Adil’s Pakistan-born father Adbul spent 40 years driving buses around Birmingham and is divorced from his mother, Nargis, who is a Civil Service interpreter from Kenya.
The Edgbaston actor, and former Radio Five Live broadcaster, added: “My mum has been to Mecca twice, and she has always told me that in our faith, you do whatever you can not to impose your faith on others.
“That’s not a weakness, it’s a strength.
“When I’m in Birmingham, I go to football matches. And I go to the mosque with other men. That’s just me and it’s a real strength.
“It’s unfortunate that you have to feel you have to separate yourself from communities at times.”
Ray’s return comes as Citizen Khan has been handed the best slot possible for its second season – at 9.30pm on Fridays on BBC1, immediately after Have I Got News For You.
In it, he plays the self-styled Citizen Khan, an outspoken 55-year-old community leader with a heart of gold. The show is partly shot on the streets of Sparkhill but mostly inside a studio in Manchester.
Ray admits: “I am excited and nervous at the same time. Television has become more ruthless, but you want to be in a high pressure situation like this.
“But we are well prepared for it, and it will be family viewing that everyone can sit down together to watch. It will be like how I used to watch shows like On The Buses and Fawlty Towers with my parents when I was a child.”
The first series drew some criticism about its portrayal of Asians and some critics claimed it was too old-fashioned to be funny.
See on www.birminghammail.co.uk