Georgia lawmaker withdraws bill to restrict burqas

Story highlights

  • Lawmaker says he based decision on "visceral reaction" to his bill
  • Bill said public ID cards should not be issued to people "if his or her face is concealed"

(CNN)A Georgia legislator said Thursday he will withdraw a bill that would have banned Muslim women from wearing burqas or veils while driving or when their driver's license photos are taken.

State Rep. Jason Spencer, on his official Facebook page, cited "the visceral reaction" created by the proposed legislation as his reason for withdrawing it.
    "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," wrote Spencer.
    The bill was heavily criticized. Sheik Salahadin Wazir, host of the American Muslim Weekly Show, told CNN's "New Day" that the bill would only help radicals by discriminating against Muslim women.
    "We should not aid and give to the radicals a gift," he said.
    Spencer wanted to amend the state's anti-masking statute, which was intended to ban Ku Klux Klan hoods and robes, and extend it to burqas, the full-body garment that many Muslim women wear.
    Spencer's bill adds the word "she" and specifies that public property include public roads and highways. The bill also says public identification cards, including driver's licenses, should not be issued to any person if his or her face is concealed.
    Spencer said the bill would have been able to "withstand legal scrutiny, but not political scrutiny."