Friday, October 6

Veiling the Issue Click for more info

And so the debate rages on pretty much in the manner it was expected to: the fundamentalist Muslims are overreacting and digging their defensive lines while the ignorant imperialist infidels (d'ya like that eh? Do ya?) are trying to justify something that is obviously so blatantly wrong, oppressive, irrelevant and hostile only to Islam (again) you gotta wonder whether they're joking or not. In the meantime, the rest of us sit in the sidelines watching everyone else have a barmy just for the sake of it. There's not much new ground here folks, but for those of you who have no idea of what I'm talking about click the link above for more details.

Still, there have been a few things that has raised my left eyebrow (since I can't quite manage it with my right yet). Some completely irrelevant and redundant arguments have been made on all sides, by both Muslims and otherwise, and both for and against Mr Straw's comments (and don't be fooled; the lines aren't completely drawn in parallel between these sides). So, while the media takes care of the headlines issues, here are my top three, more subtle, idiocies of the current furore:

  • You need to see someone's face in order to communicate with them successfully.
Bzzzzt. Not quite daddy-o. You need to see someone's face in order to communicate with them face to face, but not to communicate with them at all. Think about it - we're able to communicate perfectly fine over the phone or via email and unless you're the geeky type you don't see faces of anyone then. Even in person you don't necessarily look at each other's faces while talking to them (especially if the other party is a she and wearing a not-so-loose top. But I digress).

Yes, ok, talking to someone face to face does have its own advantages, some even unique over the other forms of communication. But to say that you can't communicate at all with someone unless you can see their mug indicates, to me, a fault in you rather than the person you're trying to talk to. It's like me saying I can only talk to women effectively when they're wearing short skirts and tight tops; I'm sure everyone would agree that there would be something wrong with me if that was case (and don't worry, it's not). And yes, that'd be the last reference to women and skimpy clothing for remainder of this post. Honest.

  • Islam doesn't require women to wear a nikaab; it just stops at a hijab. Anything else is culture and so doesn't matter.
Paaaarp. Now, I don't have a problem with this belief on the personal scale. Heck, I might even go further than that myself and say that even the hijab is a cultural choice rather than an Islamic obligation. But this isn't really about what Islam says; this is about the veil itself. It's beside the point whether it's worn to keep nasty pervy men away from you and your stunning beauty or as a pure sign of Godly worship or because you think you're so damned ugly that for anyone to lay eyes on your face you would turn them to stone. The reason doesn't matter, the fact that a woman - any woman - would want to wear one, does.

In fact, taking this point further, it's not even about the veil either: we can substitute the nikaab in this debate for anything that makes someone else feel uncomfortable, whether that happens to be of a religious nature or not. Unsettled by Goths? Get them to change. Can't communicate with those with ginger hair? Get them to wear hats. Finding it hard to talk to black people? Well, you get the picture.

I eagerly wait for Mr Straw to tell us about how he cannot converse with people sporting mullets without cracking up every five minutes. Now those are distracting.

  • People should respect the British custom of having people show their faces in public.
Someone (they might have even been Muslim, proving that we can be as daft as anyone else is) actually said that since British tourists respect the local custom of covering up when they go to certain Arab countries (like Dubai), it's reasonable for those wearing the nikaab to do the same in reverse here. Except, beeeeep, in general, local custom is created by the locals, and that, unfortunately, includes the British born women who choose to don a veil. You can only really aim this particular persecution at those Arabs visiting I'm afraid.

There are a few more bullet points, but I've already written more than I had intended to. Woah. Seems that there was some depth in this particular debate after all.



    so much for an open healthy discussion eh!

  2. very funny writing - i love it!

  3. woah something political!!

  4. ok a little late on this i know but haven't had time to read your blog in a while.

    i agree that people should be allowed to wear what they want, it's what the renowned diversity associated with british fashion is built on. however there are situations where i think it is understandable if a full nikaab is not acceptable or allowed. these situations are as follows:

    passport control / customs (for obvious reasons).

    shops / banks / clubs (again for security reasons. a nikaab renders cctv a bit pointless in identifying criminals unless they're caught on the spot)

    airports (same reason as specified under shops)

    interviews / place of work (employers should have the right to not allow nikaab. if there is a dress code at work then they should have the right to be able to enforce that with everyone without being pressurised to make exceptions on the basis of religion. if you're not allowed to go into work with a hooded top or a safety pin through your nose, then there's no reason why a nikaab has to be allowed)

    schools (same reason as place of work above ...a uniform is a uniform and 'one rule for all' is not unreasonable in my opinion)