Pauline Hanson claims women wear burqas under duress and bribery only

Controversial Australian politician Pauline Hanson has suggested Muslim women are paid to wear the burqa.

The Queensland Senator's comments come after a Swiss academic backed her stance on the Islamic garment and said "the burqa is not Islamic".

One Nation party leader Hanson claims the burqa is a political symbol - not a religious one.

And she told 2GB radio in Sydney that some women are forced to wear it, and others are paid.

"It is frightening. Look, there are women out here - and I really do believe - would dearly love us to bring in laws so that they don't have to wear the burqa anymore," Ms Hanson said.

"But they're actually controlled by their husbands, their fathers, their brothers - and they have to do it.

"And I do believe that - what I've heard is - there are actually women getting paid to wear the burqa."

Ms Hanson's comments came after a Muslim scholar, Dr Elham Manea, from the University of Zurich, said the burqa was deliberately popularised by Saudi Arabian oil money in the 1970s.

Dr Manea claims the burqa is not based on faith so much as interpretation of the Koran, whose strictures on clothing for men and women are open to interpretation.

"The burka is not Islamic," she told the ABC.

"It's a tradition that comes from the heart of Saudi Arabia, a region called Nejd."

Dr Manea says the veiled garment only became widely worn by women outside of Nejd after Saudi Arabia's Wahabi regime came to power at the end of the seventies.

"The re-Islamisation of Saudi Arabia according to the Wahabi Salafi fundamentalist principles led to the mainstreaming of the burka," she said.

"With Gulf money you had a promotion of this ideology and a reading of Islam that turned the burka into an 'Islamic' tradition."

Dr Manea stresses that she doesn't agree with Senator Hanson's views on many things, but conversation and debate around the burqa is much needed.

"To tell me that by talking about the burqa we are hurting the feelings of the Muslims is not only inaccurate, with all due respect, it's almost racist."

She says the burqa is a sign of segregation and all about rejecting modern values, and "treats women as a sexualised object that has to be covered".

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