In an interview with the Radio Times, the 69-year-old author and evolutionary biologist reportedly said he is filled with "visceral revulsion" when he sees Muslim women wearing the traditional, face-covering Islamic veils.
Yet Dawkins, well known as a prominent defender of atheism, stopped short of advocating a burqa ban. "As a liberal, I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications of individual liberty and freedom of choice," he told the Daily Mail after making his initial remarks.
Dawkins is currently promoting a new documentary titled "Faith School Menace?" in which he argues that religious schools encourage social segregation.
Local Muslim organizations quickly slammed Dawkins' remarks, dismissing them as "Islamophobic." "Britain is a diverse and free society," said Seyyed Ferjani of the Muslim Association of Britain. "Why does it matter to this man what a woman is wearing? We should be encouraging respect and understanding for each other."
Meanwhile, the debate over whether or not to permit the burqa continues to divide European legislators. Last month, the French government voted to prohibit the burqa and the niqab -- a piece of cloth covering the face -- from public places, which sparked an outcry among Muslim groups.
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