by Laura Stuart
Sunday, April 1st, 2012
The issue of face veils has been often in the news in the last few years. Jack Straw got the ball rolling in 2006 with his outspoken comments that covering the face can make community relations more difficult. At that time Jack Straw was Foreign Secretary and was leading Britain into the invasion of Iraq, an action based on lies and which lead to millions of deaths. Perhaps invading Iraq has had an even more devastating effect on community relations with Muslims both in the U.K. and the Middle East.
I find Mr Straw’s comments extremely arrogant. M.P.’s are elected by their constituents and are public servants to the community. Would he have found it appropriate to comment on the clothing (or lack of) that women of ther religious or ethnic backgrounds wear? When I was growing up my mother taught me not to stare nor comment just because some one looks “a little different” perhaps Foreign Secretaries would do better if they listened more to their mothers and less to those lobby groups who push for endless wars.
Once Pandoras box was opened it gave a focus to Islamophic views. Women who wear niqab, being on the whole rather deeply religious, are not likely to be out causing trouble and breaking laws therefore they are hardly a threat to society. I am sure if any British government ever got serious about banning the face veil we would be able to request they show the need for such a law based on statistics proving the criminal activities of face-veil wearers. With the rise of the far right in France and Europe mainstream parties have been trying to take back some of the votes by pandering to the kind of people that are anti immigration and Islamophobic. Sarkozy was quick to ban the veil in France, but a report in the Toronto Star says that police are ignoring veiled women in France. “French Ban on veil Turns Out to be Toothless“. That shows that there is still some common sense, and that somewhere in the chain of police command someone has had the wit to recognise that police have better things to do with their time than taking Muslim women to the police stations to uncover their faces. The French law does not allow the police to request a woman to remove her veil in public, rather they have to take her to the police station. Any person of logic would hope that police could be put to better use catching thieves and other threats to society.
Sometimes when I walk on the street, both men and women make comments about my clothes and I wonder why they feel they have a right. Islamically, the advice is that we should say “peace” and walk on, but sometimes the ignorance displayed is such that I feel myself responding and telling them it is not their business. I feel that certain people feel that they can get away with intimidating someone who they feel is from another country and culture and may be too timid to stand up for themselves. It is bullying, pure and simple and the age old problem of Jack Straw, Sarkozy and the hooligans of the E.D.L. believing it is their right to tell women what they can and can’t wear. These are misogynists, no better than the Taliban. What is the difference between the Taliban who make it mandatory for a woman to cover, and likes of Sarkozy who make it mandatory to uncover?
In the name of women’s rights, solidarity with my sisters in France, and religious conviction, I wore my niqab as I travelled all through France to Freiburg last September and nothing happened. It is my choice to wear Niqab and although I do not believe that it is mandatory in Islam to wear the face veil, I wear it of my own free will (Islamic clothing is immensely liberating).
I would like to think that if the British government decided to pander to the far right, all who believe in women’s rights and in freedom of expression would join the niqab-wearing sisters in fighting any ban. I am sure that when orthodox Jewish women came to this country wearing scheitel, they too were subject to strange looks so I would expect Jewish women to be the first to support Muslim women’s right to wear what they feel is religiously appropriate, I really hope they will get in touch.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا ﴿٥٩﴾