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Straw ‘opposes all Muslim veils’


by Leon on 5th October, 2006 at 4:06 pm    

Muslim women in the UK who wear full veils make “better, positive relations” between communities “more difficult”, Commons leader Jack Straw has said.

Concealing a face was “a visible statement of separation and of difference”, the Blackburn MP told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.

He said he now asks women who have meetings with him to remove their veils so they can truly talk “face-to-face”.

“My concerns could be misplaced, but I think there is an issue here,” he said.[Via BBC News]

Is he right? Does the veil represent a separation and difference or his he simply being offensive and intolerant?

Either way it seems this could be the opening of a big can of worms…

Update: NewsNow feed on this here and the BBC has a brief overview of the papers reactions here. George Galloway has picked up the scent of opportunity here. Straws original article in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph is reprinted by the Guardian here. My word, name checked and linked to on the Guardian news blog! Looks like this has become a political football, other cabinet members chipping in and the Tories have something to say too.

Update 2: Here’s a the updated BBC news piece:

Cabinet Minister Jack Straw has said he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils at all.

The Commons leader said he did not want to be “prescriptive” but he believed that covering people’s faces could make community relations more difficult.

Mr Straw has said he asks Muslim women at his Blackburn constituency surgeries if they would mind removing veils.

Some Muslim women called his remarks insulting, but other Muslims said they understood his concerns.[Via BBC News]



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281 Comments   |   Add your own


  1. justforfun — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

    I’ll give you my opinion if you first tell me if this man ought to be forced to wear a veil.

    http://www.canze.org.nz/forum/hosting/br-undies.jpg

    Justforfun

  2. Jai — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    =>”Is he right? Does the veil represent a separation and difference or his he simply being offensive and intolerant?”

    On the one hand, it could be construed as interfering with an individual’s right to (peacefully) practice her religion.

    On the other hand, historically the Sikh Gurus made it mandatory for any woman entering a gurdwara to remove her veil, as it was regarded by the Gurus as an unnecessary affectation to modesty, and symbolic of the oppression of women (ie. a woman should not have to veil herself just because her beauty may “inflame” or “distract” men — it’s the men’s responsibility to control themselves).

    So both sides of the argument have their valid points. Tricky question and a can of worms, as Leon has already mentioned.

  3. raz — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:21 pm  

    Full veils are stupid IMO.

  4. Kismet Hardy — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

    tell that to darth vadar

  5. Leon — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:24 pm  

    Kisy, please, restrain yourself on this one.

  6. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:25 pm  

    My daughter is scared of veiled women - she saw one in Birmingham once when we we visited relatives after a wedding and she was frightened by a couple of burqa clad ladies in the park we went for a walk in.

    The hijab is very pleasent and can even make a lady look noble but the full veil is unsettling.

  7. Bert Preast — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

    I don’t have any problem with veiled women, but I am against it in certain situations - like on a driving licence. Bit like Jack Straw then, shouldn’t wonder.

  8. raz — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    A funny story about my mother, who doesn’t wear a hijab or veil. She was raised that way, but she was also raised in a very female environment, where the only males she had contact with were family members. When she went to university in Multan, on the first day she was startled to see strange men all over the place. So traumatising was this experience, she decided to wear a full burka for the entire duration of her degree course, because she was ’scared’ of men. LOL :)

  9. Kulvinder — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

    Is he right? Does the veil represent a separation and difference

    Obviously, but then again in part it may be meant to. Wearing a turban for instance isn’t meant to be a hidden act.

    A better question would be; does anyone care? I dislike the type of ’social construction’ that he seems to be advocating. So what if they look or behave differently. An individual cannot and should not be held responsible for ‘community relations’. Putting pressure on those that wear a nikab to conform is little more than social authoritarianism.

    There is nothing wrong with a personal statement of separation and difference.

    or his he simply being offensive and intolerant?

    I wouldn’t say offensive, perhaps intolerant - as is his right. Im more curious on what the political angle on all this is.

  10. Leon — on 5th October, 2006 at 4:56 pm  

    Im more curious on what the political angle on all this is.

    To be honest me too. Straw is a crafty one to be sure but this one is a little baffling (which probably means it’s strikingly obvious if looked at right)…

  11. Chairwoman — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:00 pm  

    Perhaps now he realises he’s pretty much a spent force, he’s decided to stand down at the next election, and as his last act, he’s throwing the constituency to the wolves.

  12. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

    Political angle — are we so cynical that we dont believe a politician can ever simply speak from the heart? Maybe it is something he thinks needs to be discussed.

  13. Ralph Lucas — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:16 pm  

    There is nothing wrong with a personal statement of separation and difference. I agree. Communities produce great pressures to conform, and we have to work hard to allow difference to flourish.

    We do too, though, have to work hard to keep communication and understanding going within the community, or separation and difference can become a point of fracture. I have particular problems with, for instance, the police spending all their time in cars and offices - they become an instrument of oppression and not part of the community.

    “An individual cannot and should not be held responsible for ‘community relations’.”? Well, yes they can. It does not matter if one policeman spends all day in his car, but it does if they all do. Some behaviours are acceptable in small doses (Christians with loudspeakers outside tube stations, for instance), but uncomfortable when they proliferate. So I prefer the viewpoint that we are all responsible for community relations, and that when a particular statement of separation and difference becomes sufficiently common to cause the community unease, those who are making the statement should take the unease into account.

    Jack Straw is doing no more that stating a truth - that you can’t communicate fully with someone who conceals their face - like Skyping to someone with your webcam on when theirs is not.

  14. Leon — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:18 pm  

    are we so cynical that we dont believe a politician can ever simply speak from the heart?

    Working within the horrid political sphere I wouldn’t call it cynicism. In my experience cabinet level MPs never just speak from the heart, especially those as experienced as Straw.

  15. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:20 pm  

    It’s the face thing that is unsettling. A hijab, a yarmulke or turban don’t cover the face. When you can’t see the face it can be very unsettling. Simple human biology isnt it? We relate by looking each other face to face.

  16. Leon — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:20 pm  

    Ralph, are you really the Lord Lucas??

  17. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

    Either way it seems this could be the opening of a big can of worms…

    Never has a truer word been spoken.

  18. justforfun — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    See a face , make a prejudice. We all do it - it is hard wired into our brains, we are designed biologically to read human faces at lightening speed. If you show your face then you have at least some control about how people ’see’ you. If you wear a veil then you have passed over this responsiblity to your ‘community’ or others and how they want you to be perceived. You are no longer in control of your image.
    Is that why the veil was invented?

    At the other end of the spectrum - why can’t we all walk around naked? I want to be a Jain monk for the day.

    Justforfun

  19. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:27 pm  

    I could never be a Jain monk, it would mean I couldnt kill all the trapped in the living room and can’t get out daddy longlegs, which is one of my favourite pastimes this time of year.

  20. AsifB — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:39 pm  

    “Muslim women in the UK who wear full veils make “better, positive relations” between communities “more difficult”, ”
    Not to mention making relations with Muslim men more difficult.

    Definitely a can of worms - but if I read it right he is expressly saying no only to face covering. Ie; he is not objecting to hijab/headscarves in general - given that full face covering for women is not considered acceptable when performing Haj (even though it may be publicly enforced elesewhere in Saudi) this does not sound unreasonable at all.

    Without wishing to stereotype anyone who wears a full veil, there can sometimes be be a whiff of arrogance given off by some women who go for the full Ninja outfit.

  21. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:42 pm  

    Straw’s comments are astonishingly patronising, and full of racist tropes (e.g. ‘our’ culture). This is a politician telling a group of people they don’t really belong because of the way they dress, with not the least concern for the perspective of the ‘other’. It caomes as part of a drip-drip of New Labour polemic targetting Muslim communities, and you have to ask yourself why. In my view, New Labour is being true to its populism and jumping on the bandwagon of Muslim as folk demon. We’re nothing special. They’ve done it to lone Mothers, asylum seekers, gypsies, you name a marginalised group, they’ve dumped on ‘em. It’s called keeping the tabloids and the white middle class voters happy.

    Wasalaam

    TMA

  22. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 5:50 pm  

    Straw’s comments are astonishingly patronising, and full of racist tropes

    Ah yes, those good old ‘racist tropes’, always handy to have when you want to misrepresent an issue. What race are you, by the way?

  23. Robert — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:00 pm  

    I am reminded of an article by Matthew Parris for last year: Never mind what the woman thinks, wearing a veil is offensive to me.

    He argues that wearing a full veil in a Western society is as improper as wearing shoes in a mosque.

    The problem for me is simple: Why deny me your smile? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

  24. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:19 pm  

    Does can of worms mean upset male muslim reactionaries.
    Good link Robert, Parris argument is very persuasive and reasonable.

    Yakoub/Julaybib calling Straw a racist is not going to end the debate on this topic. I do not think it is racist to bring up the issue of the oppression Muslim women face within their own communities. They live in a society in which women are equal to men they should not wear garments that confer upon them a second class status that they do not deserve.

  25. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    ZinZin, I agree with you that dubbing Straw a racist is wrong, but the truth is that lots of Muslim women wear the hijab willingly and proudly, and it is perfectly possible to separate one issue from the other. The hijab is a different issue from this one altogether.

  26. Don — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:30 pm  

    As far as I can see, Straw is asking, not demanding, that women who come to see him remove the veil for the duration of the interview, not give it up all together. Seems a reasonable request, there is no suggestion that if the decline he will terminate the meeting.

    We’ve covered similar topics in the past and it is fairly clear that there is no religious requirement to cover the face, so is it really a ‘muslim’ issue? I don’t think there is a law prohibiting concealing one’s face in public so presumably any one can legally wear a mask in the street. However, unless they were clearly a ’street entertainer’ or part of a demo, I suspect that it would quickly prove untenable. Anyone care to try it? I’m guessing it would evoke suspicion, discomfort and hostility regardless of your race or religion.

    Hell, I refuse to engage with anyone who wears shades while talking to me, without having a good reason. Visual impairment or very bright light are good reasons. ‘It feels comfortable’ isn’t.

  27. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:32 pm  

    Why do they wear the Hijab that is what i want to Know?

    Jagdeep you are confusing the issue in one regard and that is between muslim women who have made a conscious decision to do so and young girls who do so because a male relative has told them to do it.

    The hijab, veil and Burkha are gartments of oppression. The oppression of female sexuality an unhealthy obsession of Muslim men sadly.

  28. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

    Zinzin,

    In light of the fact that some Muslim women cant wear the veil or the Burka, have they been oppressed into liberation?

    Why not stick to arguing for choice no matter how strange it is. Cigarettes kill, Burkahs dont. They are choices that in places like Britian people should have the right to make.

    Personally I believe that women oppressive thier sexuality with thier sexual behavior which can create unhealthy obession of Muslim or any men, sadly.

  29. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:43 pm  

    Zinzin,

    Thats oppress their sexuality.

  30. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    Why do they wear the Hijab that is what i want to Know?

    Why don’t you ask one?

    Arrange to speak to a Muslim lady who wears hijab. I’m sure you are not too frightened about doing this. (Or maybe you are?) Then speak to other non hijab wearing Muslim women, and you’ll see that unlike the issue of the face veil, there are several shades of grey involved in this particular aspect of Muslim female life, and it is an issue that Muslims contend amongst themselves all the time, including the proposition that it is an instrument of male oppression. But at the same time there are many women who wear it willingly as a symbol of their religion and are independent and educated.

    Here is a tip though. Lose the belligerent and eternally hectoring tone at least temporarily, if for no other reason than to get them to speak to you openly, you don’t half come across as an angry man raging like crazy sometimes. Afterwards you can resume when you tell us about your adventures, here on pickled politics :-)

  31. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    Argue for choice?
    Whose choice am i arguing for? That is a question you should ask? Acid throwers?

  32. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    Lose the belligerent and eternally hectoring tone at least temporarily, if for no other reason than to get them to speak to you openly, you don’t half come across as an angry man raging like crazy sometimes.

    If you met me you would be surprised.

    I live in town thats 99% white so opportunities for meeting Muslim women are rather limited. I did see a women wearing a veil while shopping with the family. I was tempted to ask but thought better of it after all i did not want to make a scene and talking to a woman wearing a veil is a disconcerting prospect.

    Something which Straw knows about. Women in Muslim states are treated as second class citizens the veil, Burkha and hijab are symbols of this oppression.

  33. Jagdeep — on 5th October, 2006 at 6:58 pm  

    ZinZin why don’t you search the internet and join a forum and invite some Muslim women to join you in a discussion on the issue? You don’t have to meet them in real life. The hijab is something different to the facial veil, with many shades of grey in the issues it throws up. Anyway, just a suggestion.

  34. raz — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

    “i live in town thats 99% white”

    Hmm. I wonder if ZinZin (who has spent most of his time on PP talking about Muslims) needs to actually start going out and meeting some instead of basing his knowledge on second hand sources.

  35. Bert Preast — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    I tried that on MPAC. It didn’t go too well if I’m honest. Maybe I should’ve used a different name?

  36. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:20 pm  

    “i live in town thats 99% white”

    Hmm. I wonder if ZinZin (who has spent most of his time on PP talking about Muslims) needs to actually start going out and meeting some instead of basing his knowledge on second hand sources.

    Raz it may surprise you to find out that Britain is 90% White so towns that are 99% white are quite common.
    Yesterday Raz i was defending Monsieur Redeker right to freedom of speech see Conquests and conspiracy thread.

  37. Roger — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:24 pm  

    There are times when the full veil shouldn’t be allowed- driving a car, for example, for safety reasons. People’s identity will need to be checked if they sit an exam. What about entering banks? It’s as good a disguise as a- forbidden- motorcycle helmet.
    However, there is one important right that should be remembered and that is the right of people to wear silly clothes for silly reasons unless there are very good reasons to stop them. another equally important right is the right to say that people are wearing silly clothes.

  38. Sahil — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:32 pm  

    Instinctively I agree with Straw, but it bring into mind a while bunch of legal issues. I think there were two cases that were relevant:

    1. The French ban on religious symbols in school, which I thought was great, I really believe that everyone should wear a strict uniform in school, there’s a kind of equality in that.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3619988.stm

    2. The British girl that lost her case against her school to wear a jilbab.

    http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/06/71a2d9a8-9e51-481b-acf4-131924f61039.html

    I think AsifB already said that there is a kind of competition to be the most pious and that up the ante on other girls.

    Anyways back to the complete removal of the veil in Bristish society: I don’t know how you would get this to work. On what grounds is the veil offence or indecent. I mean how does it constrict on others and their freedom to exercise their choice?

    I’d ban it, or encourage people to drop the veil, but as someone has already said, I already don’t understand freedom of speech, now I probably don’t understand freedom of choice ;)

  39. Kulvinder — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:35 pm  

    I have particular problems with, for instance, the police spending all their time in cars and offices - they become an instrument of oppression and not part of the community.

    … Well, yes they can. It does not matter if one policeman spends all day in his car, but it does if they all do.

    Sorry i don’t understand the point you’re trying to make.

    Some behaviours are acceptable in small doses (Christians with loudspeakers outside tube stations, for instance), but uncomfortable when they proliferate. So I prefer the viewpoint that we are all responsible for community relations, and that when a particular statement of separation and difference becomes sufficiently common to cause the community unease, those who are making the statement should take the unease into account.

    The problem you have, and the problem jack straw has is with individuals; im always uncomfortable with the whole ‘community relations’ aspect of public argument. I am responsible for myself.

    The problem for me is simple: Why deny me your smile? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

    What if i don’t want to smile at you? My thoughts on this are universal btw; id never suggest a skinhead had to start dressing differently.

    I don’t think there is a law prohibiting concealing one’s face in public so presumably any one can legally wear a mask in the street. However, unless they were clearly a ’street entertainer’ or part of a demo, I suspect that it would quickly prove untenable. Anyone care to try it? I’m guessing it would evoke suspicion, discomfort and hostility regardless of your race or religion.

    We haven’t quite reached the totalitarian stage where the police have powers to stop people in masks, but it obviously does draw attention. Not that there is anything wrong with drawing attention to yourself, nor are you responsible for the discomfort of others (as long as you’re within the law).

    This just seems like ‘teenage hoodies’ mrk II.

  40. Kulvinder — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:40 pm  

    Btw about his motivations; isn’t gordon brown more aggressive in his pro ‘british identity’ thinking? maybe JS is trying to shift camps?

  41. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 5th October, 2006 at 7:44 pm  

    Straw certainly has plenty of apologists. I’ve worked as a Nursery teacher in State schools with 95% Muslim intake and speaking to veiled Muslim mummies came with the territory. Oddly, all were British born and hence I could speak to ‘em without bilingual support. I’m a white bloke, but that was never a problem. I didn’t ask them to remove their veil - such a suggestion strikes me as extraordinarily authoritarian.

    The only problem was when one very unveiled Mother asked me not to teach her child that ‘pigs go oink’ due to pigs being porkish and thus inherently evil. The child learned it inevitably, although not through doing Three Little Pigs - that was dropped children of the more religious parents covered their eyes at the sight of a picture of a pig! The anti-oinking mum was cross, but we talked it through. The problem was that she knew little children who used ‘oink’ to deliberately annoy elderly relatives they didn’t like! Bless ‘em!!

    No doubt, half the folks commenting on here would have agreed with her request and then sold the story to The Daily Mail!

    Wasalaam

    TMA

  42. Clairwil — on 5th October, 2006 at 9:16 pm  

    I find it hard to talk to someone I can’t make eye contact with, more so when the rest of their face is covered. I don’t know if I’d go as far as asking someone to remove their veil, then again I rarely encounter anyone fully veiled. I don’t know how common full veiling is in Jack Straws area but up here the hijab seems to be the most popular covering, which doesn’t have any impact on communication.

  43. susan_mayer — on 5th October, 2006 at 10:34 pm  

    Sahil, I completely agree with you with some Muslims girls trying to out do each other in the pious-ity stakes! At uni there was a bunch of girls who went from wearing hijabs to being fully vieled one by one. I could never tell who was who when they walked past me and didn’t feel relaxed in striking up a conversation with them. It was like they were in an exclusive club, one i could never belong to. I’m sure they were nice girls, but they just seemed less approachable than if they were just wearing hijabs and wearing the usual modest dress that goes along with it.

    My friends who wear hijabs just don’t prompt the same reaction. For them their hijabs are an expression of faith rather than any kind of statement about the intensity of their beliefs. At uni atleast veils seems to denote a sense of separateness while hijabs don’t. They seem to shout ‘don’t speak to me!’ and im a girl!

    I wouldn’t go so far in saying that veils create community tensions because they aren’t intrinsically harmful, I guess its just that women who are fully veiled just aren’t perceived by society as having a voice and this can only be a bad thing. Stereotypes need to be broken and this can only be with open discussion. I would never propose that all women who choose to wear a veiled be ‘unveiled’ because obviously this is a matter of personal choice, BUT i guess i just wish that people didn’t do all in their power to make themselves separate.

    Also about the whole Muslim women and oppression business: I have met a hell of a lot of Muslim women who cover up as a matter of personal choice and have seen at first hand how they deflect the unwanted attentions of loud-mouthed uncouth men (who are sometimes Muslim themselves…shock horror!)

    BUT the problem that then arises is that I,being a non-hijabi asian girl am seen as a legitimate target for lewd comments by idiotic men…hmmm…

    On the other hand, I have also come across parents who force their young girls, some 9/10 years old to wear veils and have also heard of some girls being beaten within an inch of their lives when their parents find out that they have gone to school and college and shed their scarves…

    SO their are two-sides (sometimes three) to every story.

  44. Bijna — on 5th October, 2006 at 10:57 pm  

    standard burqa joke:
    burqa 1: Did you shoot Straw?
    burqa 2: No, I could not see him.

  45. limpia — on 5th October, 2006 at 11:08 pm  

    Absolutely any veiling is fine with me except the full veil which covers all but the eyes. To me it is a matter of public safety. Since one is identified by their face, they need to show it. If a crime is committed they cannot be identified. So a court would be weighing the need for public safety, as opposed to the need for one to be able to express and live by their religion. I vote for the former in this case.

  46. ZinZin — on 5th October, 2006 at 11:20 pm  

    By Muhammed that going too far even by my “Islamophobic” standards.

    In short Leon it is a symbol of seperation and a rejection of secular values. I find it amusing that many Muslims disapprove of western values yet a lot of immigrants to the EU are Muslim. Contradictory?

  47. Sunny — on 5th October, 2006 at 11:38 pm  

    A few points to make:

    1) Calling his remarks racist is silly. That is his opinion and some may not like what he’s saying but it cannot be construed as racist. It’s rather like a Muslim person saying they don’t like talking to drunk people or don’t like socialising in a pub. Does that make you racist?

    2) Funny the Daily Mail could only find the guy from the IHRC to be ‘outraged’. Well, how surprising. You burp in public and that guy gets outraged.

    3) Britons have an aversion to veiled people because it is an open society. I think people have a right to air their discomfort. It’s not a can of worms, it needs to be an honest discussion. But…

    4) Dictating how people should dress is unnecessarily authoritarian as Kulvinder points out. If it is outlawed in schools and some companies decide they don’t want to employ veiled women that is their right too and I wouldn’t be against that. Similarly I don’t think I’d be too comfortable being operated on by a full veiled woman who finds even talking to men face-to-face an affront to her modesty. I’m sorry but I find that taking the idea of modesty a bit too far.

  48. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:01 am  

    susan_mayer,

    Are you really going to argue that every non vieled women has a voice, especially one worth listening too? You have some women out here who dont have any or the same constraints as some Muslim women have yet they are a waste of space. Why not worry about their pathology.

  49. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:06 am  

    Bikhair - an interesting point (as usual).

    My own views on the matter are summarised quite neatly by Sunny on #47.

    I don’t want ‘Dr’ John Reid or anyone else from ‘New’ Labour poking their dirty little noses into our civil liberties.

  50. Clairwil — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:12 am  

    Sunny,
    I don’t like the idea of telling people how to dress either and agree more or less with the views you express above.

    I do think Rodger in #37 raises a sensible point regarding women being fully veiled entering banks etc, where they wouldn’t be allowed to wear a crash helmet. I’ve batted it backwards and forwards and I still can’t decide between wear what you want or the banks right to have a dress code of sorts.

    I realise that banks are private companies but they are also community facilities. Whilst a high street
    shop requesting people keep their faces uncovered on their premises is fair enough, I’m not sure the same is true of banks and post offices. What is to stop an armed robber dressing as a veiled Muslim woman?

    I think this is a very difficult issue indeed and one I’d like to see a lot more discussion on, as it represents to me a genuine conflict between individual rights and public safety.

    I’m not convinced Jack Straw is right to impose such conditions on members of the public exercising their right to visit their MP, but I’m glad he brought it up and as long as it doesn’t open a massive can of worms I shall remain so.

  51. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:14 am  

    George Galloway is outraged:

    Who does Jack Straw think he is to tell his female constituents that he would prefer they disrobe before they meet him,” says Respect MP George Galloway. “For that is what this amounts to. It is a male politician telling women to wear less.

    Got this from Harry’s place. Galloways got a filthy mind.

    All he is saying is ’show us your face’ as the brickie in mecca would do.

  52. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:30 am  

    Galloway’s got a bit of a ‘reputation’ with the ladies.

    [politically-incorrect translation: He’s an adulterous, licentious cheating bastard.]

  53. Clairwil — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:31 am  

    George Galloway is always outraged. It’s his job, in fairness it’s quite funny twice a year or so. Mind you when he was my MP I used to love getting him to send letter to the council on my behalf. They would quake in their boots.

  54. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:36 am  

    Here’s a little gem from ‘Josh Scholar’ on Harry’s Place:

    In some cases a veil could help. For instance I would rather listen to George Galloway if he was wearing a veil - made of concrete. I’ll be happy to get a trowel and apply one for him.

  55. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:17 am  

    THIS, however, is quite disturbing. And it’s sure sign of things to come in parts of London, Bradford, Oldham, Rochdale, Leicester, Birmingham, and (probably) Manchester. To restate the obvious one more time: in a Fourth Generation world, invasion by immigrants who do not ‘fit in’ is more dangerous than invasion by the army of a foreign state.

    ‘War on Terror’? Nope. It’s the real war. The global ‘War on Immigration’.

  56. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:29 am  

    You see… [*shaking his head*]… without a responsible attitude to immigration you cannot maintain consensual policing. Let me quote a small segment from the Telegraph article:

    The number of attacks has risen by a third in two years. Police representatives told the newspaper Le Figaro that the “taboo” of attacking officers on patrol has been broken.

    Ba-da-bing.

    [How long until the Moroccans in Belgium or Holland start their own mini-intifada against the police who patrol one of their Bantustans? My prediction? 12-18 months. Maybe less.]

  57. Sunny — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:45 am  

    Amir, stop crying, scare-mongering and playing that victim card. It’s gang violence out of control as is in many parts of America… and even Mumbai! The mini-intafada rubbish is the same as Eurabia, using terminology that has no meaning. Keep predicting.

  58. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:47 am  

    If you don’t know what ‘Fourth Generation Warfare’ is, then I suggest you read this.

    It’s the future baby.

  59. Sunny — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:50 am  

    Wow, we’re on Ralph Lucas’ blogroll. Are you the real one? Cool.

    I think he has a point Kulvinder, in that communication is very much about perception. We do not perceive women in veils to want to communicate (presumably that’s why they wear a veil) and hence we find it hard to communicate.

    The same could apply to the police… or really anyone. I thought Jack Straw’s statement to Sky News was quite good. The guy is in a constituency with a huge Muslim population, there is no doubt he has some local support on this too.

  60. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:57 am  

    Sunny,

    ‘Amir, stop crying, scare-mongering and playing that victim card’

    I’m not crying. I’m not scaremongering. And I’m certainly not playing the victim card (why would I: the rioting in Paris doesn’t affect me]. If you want to carry on with this puerile ad hominem abuse – which lacks zero analysis – then go ahead. It damages your own credibility – not mine. As for my predictions, they are based on the most recent Ramadan Riots – a sequel to the 2005 Ramadan Riots.

    It’s the future. Whether you like it or not.

  61. Sunny — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:37 am  

    It’s the future. Whether you like it or not.

    I’m quite liking the future actually. You’re the one who complains about it all the time. The future is brown.

    As for the so-called ‘Ramadan Riots’, that is once again typical of BJ and that cretin crew. Those fights are as much about Ramadan as the recent spate of high-school killings are about Easter. But ho hum, keep stirring that pot. It has no impact with me.

  62. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:43 am  

    Sunny,

    ‘It’s gang violence out of control as is in many parts of America… and even Mumbai!’

    Precisely. You got it in one. Except that these people do not see themselves as ‘gangsters’. They see themselves as warriors. So the ‘intifada’ label sticks. The endless and largely cynical bilge about a ‘Global War on Terrorism,’ ‘Islamic extremism,’ ‘Islamofascism,’ etc. has served more to obscure than to reveal the strategic situation the West now faces. Islam is, and always has been, a religion of territorial conquest and political self-assertion. Moslems are a proud people and will defend their turf to the hilt. They are mentally strong and remarkably brave (one possible exception: the pan-Arab period and Israel’s golden era). What has changed in recent times is that after about 300 years on the strategic defensive, following the failure of the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683, Islam (or ‘Islamism’ to be more precise) has resumed the strategic offensive. It is expanding outward in every direction, and much of its expansion is violent.

    These are facts. Question them if you will.

    Here we come face-to-face with one of Fouth Generation Warfare’s basic ingredients, the West’s moral incapacity to defend itself. No one can doubt that the rapid arrival of tens of millions of more unassimilated immigrants (who couldn’t give a flying fuck about the culture of their adopted homeland) will be catastrophic. But no one can also doubt that the usual games will be played by feeble Leftist Establishments, with the usual results of their open-borders policies: riots, rocketing crime, educational backwardness, linguistic entrenchment, alienation and irreconcilable social divisions.

    But go ahead… try and gloss over.

    Amir

  63. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:16 am  

    Sunny,

    ‘I’m quite liking the future actually. You’re the one who complains about it all the time. The future is brown.’

    Rudolf Hess – if my memory serves me correctly – said something remarkably similar to this in a speech in Berlin just after the death of Hindenburg in August 1934. Just replace: ‘The future is brown’ with ‘The future is Aryan’.

    Here, in a nutshell, is your real agenda. You’re an ethnic nationalist. Just like Louis Farrakhan and David Duke, or Gary Younge and Nick Griffin. There is something spiteful, almost malevolent, about your attitudes to Caucasian people. You seem to be implying in the above segment that the eradication of white Britons is a matter of demographic hygiene? Correct? I have contributed to your blog on many, many occasions (at some length too), and yet you repeatedly put me down for the unforgivable crime of being white.

    Your anal infatuation with skin-colour is quite at odds with your so-called ‘anti-racism’. It is also at odds with your previous comment (on this very thread):

    “Calling his remarks racist is silly. That is his opinion and some may not like what he’s saying but it cannot be construed as racist.”

    Well, yes, it does, if your name is ‘Amir’ and if he disagrees with Sunny on immigration or multiculturalism.

    Grow up.

    Amir

  64. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:28 am  

    Another mistake you make:

    ‘Those fights are as much about Ramadan as the recent spate of high-school killings are about Easter.’

    The term has nothing to do with Islamic theology. It’s a catchy nickname – like 9/11 or 7/7. The rioting occurred, funnily enough, during the holy period of Ramadan. Or are you doubting that these incidents ever took place?

  65. Sunny — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:53 am  

    Here, in a nutshell, is your real agenda. You’re an ethnic nationalist. Just like Louis Farrakhan and David Duke, or Gary Younge and Nick Griffin.

    Haha! I love winding you up.

  66. Kulvinder — on 6th October, 2006 at 6:36 am  

    Your anal infatuation with skin-colour

    Thats about the funniest thing i’ve ever read.

  67. Trofim — on 6th October, 2006 at 8:37 am  

    The idea that either covering your face or not covering your face has no social consequences, is absurd. Well, there are some elementary reasons to be offended by the sight of a covered face. The face is not just an area of skin provided as a handy location for the eyes and three orifices – it plays a fundamental role in human identification and communication. We need to see faces in order to read the information they provide and in order to augment verbal communication. I have heard how blind people report that they feel a power imbalance when communicating with a sighted person, because they cannot see their interlocutor’s face, but their interlocutor can see their face. We like to see faces, otherwise, why would pictures of people be so liberally scattered throughout the media, alongside newspaper articles or accompanying the blurb on the inside cover of books? We need to see faces, we look at faces when we meet people, when we communicate. It is innate.

    As long as women who wear these articles of clothing understand that they appear repugnant and alien to the overwhelming majority of British (and western) citizens, fine. I would encourage Jack Straw to wear a balaclava.

  68. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 9:19 am  

    Its easy to criticise Amir, Sunny but i believe he is edging towards the issue of arranged marriages and through such practices the maintenence of seperatist values in Asian “Ghettos”.

    I watched Robert Beckfords polemic on multiculturalism and in conversation with an asian gentleman of say 50 years of age he told him that he had arranged a marriage for his young son not a day over five with amember of his extended family.

    Such attitudes mean more veiled women. Its almost a KKK approach to women ‘touch our women and you will die’ as that is part of the values behind the veil a need to protect women from impurities such as myself.

    Maybe they are veiled for a more prosaic reason; they are ugly.

  69. justforfun — on 6th October, 2006 at 9:30 am  

    Sunny - well said in #47.

    Nothing to add really except, while the media and all are getting upset about whether people are behaving impolitely - or being politely modest by wearing the veil, a British Citizen is about to be executed. Mirza’s case should be a warning to us all. His case has brought a bright spotlight onto the arbitary despotism that afflicts Pakistan. Is any one safe if this is what can happen. That should be of more concern to all, because it could be anyone who returns to Pakistan.

    I fear his case will just be drowned out, but lets hope his supporters have the opportunity to get Mirza the justice he deserves.

    Justforfun

  70. Rakhee — on 6th October, 2006 at 9:43 am  

    My main problem with Straw’s comment is this.

    Who the hell is he to tell people, some of whom are BRITISH CITIZENS and just choose to follow a certain faith, what to wear? It’s a complete breach of fundamental human rights.

    Why is he then not telling other British women to cover up? If it works one way, then it should work the other.

    What we wear is a complete reflection of who we are, our personalities and is ultimately about our own comfort.

    Instead of focusing on important problems involving economics or empowerment, he’s zoned in on something which does not help anyone, including himself.

  71. Galloise Blonde — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:11 am  

    I don’t want to talk about things I don’t know about, but I do know about the Paris riots. I was there, in North Paris, at the time. And I do think that the media, particularly outside France, fitted it to their clash-of-civillisations narrative without looking at the complexities. To me, they were ghetto riots. Not all of the rioters were North African or Arab, in fact, many of these groups have quietly ascended the social ladder and have moved out to solid, peaceful working-class areas elsewhere in Paris. Many of the rioters were West African christians and white French.

    Sarkozy, as Mayor of Neuilly, contributed to the appalling ghettoisation of Paris through consistent failure to build his quota of HLM (think council) housing in Neuilly, and many other Mairies had the same approach (as a small fine was the only penalty). His inflammatory talk after that, blaming ghetto-dwellers for the existence of ghettoes was bound to provoke a reaction, particularly in France where protests are much more common. The flashpoint of the death of the young lad who ran into an electric fence reminded me of the Toxteth riots. I still feel that the Paris riots had a lot more in common with Toxteth (ghettoisation, unemployment, heavy-handed policing) than any ‘intifada’.

  72. soru — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:20 am  

    Rakhee: would you think a Muslim MP has the right to _ask_ (not tell) women who come to ask him question not to turn up in basque and suspenders?

    What if it was a female MP, and a man in a Borat-style swimsuit:

    http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/05/SachaBaronCohenPA_228×395.jpg

    Anyone who turns that ‘ask’ into a ‘tell’ is either being disingeneous or has been successfully lied to by someone with an agenda.

  73. S — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:23 am  

    People wearing a full veil make me cringe when I pass them. Young girls with whale tail thongs and their boobs shoved out make me cringe. Same thing- they are both making a statement that makes me uncomfortable but I put up with it.

    However I’m sick of the rolling 24 hour muslim issue of the day news. People talk about a clash of civilisations as if it is something new. However I think we are in danger of falling into the same ‘culture war’ style of politics that took over the US years ago.

    This is where the economics, class and power issues have been sucked out of politics. The news is instead consumed with constant ‘culture war’ controversies — abortion, guns, flag burning, intelligent design, obscene art exhibitions and on and on. These issues cause enormous controversy because they are so associated with identity.

    Our constant Islam discussions remind me of this. In contrast to popular cliche more discussion does not work things out but just leads to further entrenched defensiveness or outrage. I just hope something real comes along to knock this crap out of the papers. Sadly news value is more and more judged by how many ‘Commentators’ choose to take it up. No offence to the poor bloke locked up in Pakistan- but where is the discussion about N Korea threatening a nuclear test?

  74. Rakhee — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:36 am  

    Soru, I can’t see your link and take your point about the difference between asking / telling.

    That said, I stand by my point that suggesting people should wear certain clothes in order to conform to society / what politicians think is right just doesn’t sit well with me.

  75. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:39 am  

    Cheers for the attempt at derail Amir…prick.

    Anyway, I generally agree with Straw (in the point about communication between two people); interesting to see such a well thought out and naunced point, even if he is just angling for something.

    That said it’s not a huge issue in my life because although I deal with various people from the many Muslim communities I rarely am faced with the veil in the manner he describes.

    It’s also interesting the growing picture we’re seeing of the government policey in this area (community relations/social cohesion/multiculuralism/etc). If this was off message Downing Street would have issued a statement effectively distancing them from it, they haven’t which means he has tacit support. How does this fit into the commission on integration and the coming Commission for Equality and Human Rights?

    Ruth Kelly must be thrilled that he’s bumbling onto her patch while probably trying to impress one of the Leadership contenders!

  76. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:41 am  

    Wow, we’re on Ralph Lucas’ blogroll. Are you the real one? Cool.

    Mad! It must be him (assuming the blog is actually by him) then! Crazy.

    “Pickled Politics; reaches the [political] parts other blogs fail to reach”:D

  77. soru — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:43 am  

    Are you asking him not to say it, or telling him?

    :-)

  78. Chris Stiles — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:49 am  

    Kulvinder -


    Your anal infatuation with skin-colour

    Thats about the funniest thing i’ve ever read.

    Actually, it’s a sad indictment of what passes for logic in this place. As I said in another thread, I wish people would deal with the issues raised without constant demands about people’s backgrounds and a subsequent dismissal of their arguments as ‘that of swarthy/white types who hate clean shaven/bearded white/swarthy men’.

    This is the logic of Malkit X (”You are just threatened by the power of my ethnic sexuality!”).

    On the issue raised in this thread - in general I would disagree with politicians intruding into our lives in this way. One ‘remedy’ would be to aim for a society where no felt they had to be veiled, because I do think the veil ‘matters’ in the sense that your experience of other people and their experience of you is different.

    As a reductio ad absurdum consider a society where everyone was veiled all the time - the fact is we are all products of our evolution, and facial expressions are an important component of our interactions with each other.

  79. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Soru, eh?

  80. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:53 am  

    lots of people make lots of other people cringe. some outfits make others cringe etc. it’s a fair enough reaction but there’s already enough conformity about dress codes. who needs more?

    Pro-hijab countries may think and probably do - that the rest of us ought to cover up more. if we don’t like that - and i certainly don’t - i don’t see that we can impose similar ideas back.

    people can say that the hijab is a form of conformity dress code and in some countries it definitely is and i’m totally for people to have choice whether they want to wear it or not. Telling someone not to wear something is just as negative -in terms of liberty- as telling them they have to wear it. Both aspects use social pressure to get individuals to conform to some notions of what people ought to wear. individuals ought to be able to wear what they damn well like.

    look at all the difficulty men in offices had this summer - it’s roasting outside but how many could get away with showing up in shorts and t-shirt? aggravated by the fact that women have it much easier! in this case - definitely.

    in any case this approach will always backfire. Instead suggesting instead the opposite - that individuals shouldn’t have to conform to stringent dresscodes and be able to make up their own minds - and trying to encourage such freedom - is the way to go.

    States ought not to interfere with what the population may or may not be wearing - such nitpicky interfering behaviour. This is what i think about the Mullahs and same goes for the non-Mullahs.

  81. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:01 am  

    Agree with S about my responsibilities to deal with my own cringing. And Straw has a right to deal with it in his polite own way. In fact I agree with S #73 for the rest as well.

    But to give my impression of the political angle Straw is getting at (to Kulvinder #9 and Leon #10), it strikes me as a similar campaign to the pre-election Tory “are you thinking what we’re thinking?”

    Since media values seem to be driving the selection of news to fit a narrative of Muslim threats and the death of multiculturalism, it would not be surprising if a lot of people answer “yes, this is true, thank goodness for a politician with the guts to say so”.

    Before anyone says the obvious, I don’t think there is a media conspiracy. I saw a documentary on Burma’s internal repression during sehri today. It’s there, but where will be the resonance? If Straw even raised it, it would not be seen as a relevant issue for the general news, but as a speech aimed at a particular constituency. The excitement of a broader narrative is missing.

    My feeling that Islam is the new “other” for political operators to use to unite people behind their preferred kinds of Western or British or Christian or other identities. And other political operators would like to include Muslims in their political campaigns perhaps against the political class, or particular ideologies. And some Muslim identity politics have the same kinds of dynamics.

  82. soru — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:18 am  

    leon:

    It was a reply to Rakhee, making the point that (in my opinion) it’s ok to _ask_ Straw to stop adding to the pile of scary Muslim-of-the-day stories, and hypocritical and counterproductive to _tell_ him that he can’t say what he said.

  83. BevanKieran — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:21 am  

    S

    However I’m sick of the rolling 24 hour muslim issue of the day news.

    Not the only one. I think the manatees who make up the jokes for Family Guy by picking up random balls (only makes sense if you watch South Park), are doing the same for the BBC.

    Muslim…veil…Jack Straw
    Muslim…Police…Israeli Embassy
    Muslim…Army…NHS.
    Muslim…Milk…Berkshire

    On the veil issue, Olvier Letwin had it right yesterday when he said Jack Straw overstepped the mark by including the term “separation” in his criticism. It is “different” from what most of the population, but then again it doesn’t harm anyone. I don’t see how community relations will be improved by dropping the veil. At a guess, I’m sure there must be some idiot M.P in the 60s, before curry became a national cuisine and extractor fans widely accessible, who told Asian immigrants to stop cooking curries because it left a pungent odour in the air. (It was a common excuse for Asians to be refused renting places) What about wearing shoes indoors? I go bare-foot in the office (at Uni), should I cover up?

  84. Roger — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:23 am  

    “Why is he then not telling other British women to cover up? If it works one way, then it should work the other. ”
    Rakhee, muslims can and do tell other British women to cover up. It does work the other way.
    Yes, people have the right to wear veils as a general rule. There are circumstances when it might be impolite, discourteous or even dangerous. I listed some examples above. A few more thoughts:
    Any circumstances where people need clear and unimpeded vision- driving, as I said, for example. Mr. Straw chose the exanmple of face-to-face conversation as the one that he personally had problems with and I think it goes further. Any job that requires it might make wearing a veil a serious problem. Teachers, especially with small children, use their faces to communicate. If I was choosing a teacher one who insisted on wearing a veil would have to have other talents that far outweighed their rivals before I considered them. Doctors and nurses too. As a general rule; many deaf and hard-of-hearing people depend on lip-reading, which is rather difficult if someone wears a veil.
    As for the claims made for veils, they certainly don’t act as concealment and enable people to pass unnoticed in Britain- the wearers might as well go round flapping a banner reading “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”

  85. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:25 am  

    Story has been updated due to Straw broadening his point.

  86. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:35 am  

    Obviously it’s not a ‘Muslim’ issue. and in any case Straw wasn’t suggesting they take the hijab off their hair but rather the bit that covers up the face minus the eyes.

    the blanket term ‘removing the veil’ is misleading. either Straw should be careful of what he says or editors again are up to trying to get screaming headlines. removing the veil is ambiguous as it could mean take off your headscarf or it could mean leave your headscarf on and just take the face veil thingie off.

    i’m curious as to who are all these veiled up women Straw has meetings with on a regular basis?!

  87. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:42 am  

    raz - what she had NEVER seen a man??

    goes to show segregation can lead to a big shock!

    jai interesting - what you say about gurdwaras. certainly people shouldn’t have an idea that the onus is on women - obviously men should ‘control’ themselves. Regardless of what people want to wear - it should not be seen as something that if you don’t wear it you’re somehow asking for men to mess you around.

    Ha ha it makes me laugh when these blokes who like to see themselves as strong authoritarian types - that Qaradawi for instance - come along and say ‘oh but we can’t have women leading prayer’. Why not? ‘oh we men would get aroused’. HA HA HA is that funny or what - what kind of wusses does he want everyone to think men are??! I mean COME ON> if they’re that pathetic they shouldn’t be allowed positions of authority - ‘why they might get aroused’.. by some unsuspecting woman, what then if a Mata Hari type comes along?! Good argument against them i reckon - use their own tricks against them. Say sth along the line..well according to Qaradawi - men are so weak they can’t be trusted and should not be allowed out of their houses without their wives/or girlfriends or something. Ho ho ho. They can’t have their cake and eat it.

  88. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:44 am  

    If i were a man i’d be well pissed off at comments like that from Qaradawi and other folks. What a nerve - he ought to just speak for himself.

  89. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:53 am  

    Sonia #87 - very funny. I’m going to use that. Let’s shut all the emotionally undisciplined men indoors for the sake of protecting the Ummah.

  90. Jai — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:59 am  

    Sonia,

    There was an interesting article on SM during the summer about a book an Asian woman had written sometime in the early 20th century, which involved a fictional story where the situation was reversed, ie. men were kept in purdah/seclusion, in “male only” quarters called “mardanas” (as opposed to “zenanas”).

    I can’t remember if this was in the main article or if one of the subsequent commenters said this, but someone somewhere made the superb point that if men were so inflamed by the sight of unveiled women that the latter had be kept in seclusion “for their own safety”, then perhaps it is such men who need to be locked up, not the women.

    Very interesting way of thinking about it, eh ? Quite thought-provoking.

  91. Jai — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

    ^^^I wrote the post above before reading Arif’s comment (I hand’t clicked “refresh”), but it’s amusing how we both came up with the same point simultaneously !

  92. Jai — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

    “hand’t” = hadn’t (obviously)

  93. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

    Yeah I’m with you guys. Everyday there is a crisis on the news involving Muslims. There should be a moratorium on Muslim news for a week or something. These days it’s like:

    And the headlines today, some controversy over Islam. And in the midlands, something horrible happened involving Muslims. Elsewhere, controversy over comments by a Muslim. And in other news, there have been protests by angry Muslims over comments about Islam. Elsewhere, some Muslims have been arrested. And finally, a Muslim family in Bolton is generating electricity by making their grandfather walk on a treadmill connected to a dynamo and creating energy saving devices to combat global warming as well as helping him get his blood pressure down.(obligatory ‘feel good’ story inserted by the news room to make sure that not all Muslim stories are negative)….great story! Oh wait, before we go just some breaking news, some Muslims have been arrested. We’ll bring you more in the ten o’clock news, or switch over to BBC News 24, for more news on Muslim controversy and the latest on the inevitable arrests next week involving Islam and Muslims

    But it’s like a black character says in Nirpal Dhaliwal’s novel - Muslims have taken the heat off black men, because before 9/11 the negative spotlight was always on them!!

  94. Rohan — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

    For me the problem is the reaction, not the comments themselves. I was a bit surprised that the niqab bothers Straw. It’s not been my experience that women who choose to wear the niqab as well as the hijab are handicapped by it in any way.

    If Muslim women are being blocked from playing a full and fair part in society, it’s not going to be the niqab that’s the problem, let alone the cause.

    But there’s been all this ‘waving of hands’ (Tnx Baroness Uddin) at his comments, by a few Muslims but – you can tell an election’s in the air – ALL of Straw’s political opponents.

    I gather that Straw never demands that women remove their veils, he simply, it seems, invites them to do so and is ready to live with it if they say no. And there are plenty of Muslims who believe the niqab makes many non-Muslims uncomfortable, not just Straw.

    Straw seems to be ready to accept that discomfort out of respect for the personal choice of the woman concerned. But that doesn’t mean that Straw shouldn’t be free to talk about what he thinks about the niqab, whether as fact of life or statement of religious commitment.

  95. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    Maybe they are veiled for a more prosaic reason; they are ugly

    You see ZinZin, that just proves you are obnoxious and a very hostile and rude man, and that you don’t really give a damn about Muslim women at all. Posing as their righteous advocate, in reality you’re just an obnoxious fart.

  96. S — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

    “My feeling that Islam is the new “other” for political operators to use to unite people behind their preferred kinds of Western or British or Christian or other identities”

    I don’t think that a sinister intent is the main reason there is saturation of ‘muslim news’ right now, although I accept some may wish to divide and rule. Yet the main fuel is the editorial need to lead with human interest politics, and especially ‘opinion’ issues that divide. I’m not saying this is trivial, as these cases often revolve around fundamental philosophical questions of competing rights. Yet it crowds out other important topics and it snowballs and is self feeding. Are muslims angry asks poll? — well if we keep prodding them I’m sure they will be.

    More particularly I think the BBC is increasingly acting like a tabloid. They need to take long hard look at themselves for displacing the headline North Korea nuclear test story with the Jack Straw remark. OK people are interested but they’re also interested in tits and bums. It’s not the BBCs job to pander.

  97. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

    S, I do not see it as a sinister intent behind the news. I still think there are a broad number of issues raised in the media, but the news agenda is becoming noticeably Muslim-focused. What I think makes the difference are the resonance of stories for those who put them together and those who respond with interest to them.

    It seems to me that the feedback of interest is promoting “Muslim/multiculturalism not working”-type stories. And I reckon the reason for this resonance not in a sinister intent, but in a normal, human anxiety about our identities. An anxiety which has political as well as other consequences, so it can be used as a political resource. In this case it seems to define such a large part of the political terrain, with a tone of recriminations, which would suit any politician with a cold warrior kind of mentality on either side. It does not suit bridge-builders on either side.

  98. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

    Amir: 4th generation warfare… good grief!
    Still… “the future is brown”? Hmmm… is that because of global warming?
    Anyhow, I’m sure most of us are grateful Straw has brought the issue of the niqab out into the open — regardless of his careerist agenda.
    I for one can’t stand the naqib and feel a sense of contempt towards anyone who wears one (Is it contempt towards the individual person or the particularly narrow value-system behind it — probably both). I can’t help it… if a person thinks I’m not worthy of even the most minimal social interaction then they’re being fucking rude to me, end of.
    If they want to look like idiots then that’s up to them (as it is with Hassidics, nuns, Amishes, grungies and those yoots with the incredibly low-hanging jeans and visible pants). But if they want to make some kind of arrogant statement to boot, then they can fuck off. I mean we’re not talking about that little fellah in East is East who retreats into his parka out of bashfulness.
    Vote winner? You better believe it.

  99. dosa — on 6th October, 2006 at 12:53 pm  

    Am I the only person here who thought that Straw saying this on the RADIO was hilariously funny? I couldn’t even see his eyes ;-)

  100. PFM — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    who cares what some has been politician voted in through an uneducated mosque network has to say on a muslim matter.

  101. Ralph Lucas — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    Yes, I’m real.

    S (96) is half right. The Daily Mail plays that game - entirely cynically in my view. They have found that frightening people makes for greater circulation, and (looking back over the last 30 years) they and their like have succeeded - when I was 20 I hitch-hiked everywhere, and it was v easy to get a ride. Now everyone’s scared.

    Two reasons why I am interested in Straw’s sayings. Firstly the whole question of how we build what Letwin called the ‘neighbourly society’, and Cameron called something else (I’m not up to speed on the Cameroon jargon) is central to my politics. It seems to me that the solution is to look for lots of little ways of making us more comfortable with being out and involved in the community. Secondly I (and I suspect many libertarian politicians) find ourselves at a bit of a loss in dealing with Islam at home and abroad - we never had to bother about it before, and now we find ourselves ignorant and without a compass.

    So it gets a bit obsessive. Reading this blog is a help, though.

  102. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:03 pm  

    I can’t help it… if a person thinks I’m not worthy of even the most minimal social interaction then they’re being fucking rude to me, end of.

    Eh? How do you know they’re doing it because they think you’re not worthy of seeing their face??

  103. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:13 pm  

    arif and jai :-) yep.

    i’d be interested in reading that book!

    the argument that ‘we men’ must be protected from ‘temptation’ because we’re physically blah blah has been going for so long..( and obviously not just in Muslim societies - more like all patriarchal ones!and that crappy apple story..) it’s provided a good excuse for all sorts of things. like not being able to be faithful etc.

    it’d be interesting and funny to see how people would react to turning it on its head. one the one hand we have this biological excuse offered up but at the same time we also have a biological excuse offered up for male supremacy. gotta hand it to whoever thought that one up!

    there was this email re: an open letter to the home secretary and it pointed to this ridiculous site - London school of islamics - heh heh and i looked it up and one of their primary functions appear to be anti-women propaganda. one thread was titled ‘NEVER TRUST A WOMAN!’ Goodness what nutters - that sounds like it would really encourage mental stability. Of course the most annoying thing was if you responded it just turned your post into nonsense. ( the aim of that organization appears to be to ‘educate the British public about Islam’ …

  104. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    Secondly I (and I suspect many libertarian politicians) find ourselves at a bit of a loss in dealing with Islam at home and abroad - we never had to bother about it before, and now we find ourselves ignorant and without a compass.

    Nice piece of honesty that, it’s turning into a bit of political minefield with the press/media angles, government policies and various “community” groups all attempting to set or control the agenda…

  105. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:19 pm  

    My take on veil wearing is so non-pc, that I fully expect volleys of abuse from everyone, but here it is.

    The sheer vanity of women (and their men folk), who think that they are so irresistable, that a glimpse of their hair or face is going to drive passing male strangers into paroxysms of desire leaves me breathless. I feel pretty much the same about Orthodox Jewish women who cover their hair.

    I know what modest dress is, and am certainly not against it, but this is past modesty, and into a league of its own.

    *Sits back and girds loins against brickbats*

  106. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:27 pm  

    *Sits back and girds loins against brickbats*

    Eh?

    As for the rest of what you said, I didn’t think it was controversial in the slightest. I’m not sure it’s about vanity, that said isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder thus all women are beautiful to someone (probably kismet)?

  107. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:29 pm  

    It probably won’t be the first brickbat, but I’ll try to oblige you Chairwoman.

    You assume that the reason for wearing a niqab is because they are considered fantastically irresistible.

    It could be that they believe that this is the correct interpretation of modesty from a particular line of jurisprudence, despite wishing it was not so.

    It could be that they feel it is comfortable for them, and enables some women to go out more confidently than otherwise. Who knows?

    People have their own reasons and rationalisations. Most of the time I do things and act out of habit, comfort, conformity and would be at a loss to justify it to others. Should I make the effort if I’m not causing any harm? Sure, I try to make people feel comfortable, but at the same time I know some people will never be satisfied, so there have to be boundaries.

    People make their boundaries differently. Some wear niqab and that contributes to minor tensions in society. Some pass judgment on them and contribute tensions themselves. We’re still mostly good people trying our best.

  108. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:32 pm  

    Some interesting thoughts on this here.

    This bit caught my attention:

    The politicians who have been lecturing Muslims about social cohesion and integration are the same ones whose economic policies have generated vast gulfs in income, resulting in difference in daily life - and social segregation - far greater than anything associated with cultural practices. Yes, the population is becoming more divided - by wealth, which means, inevitably, by health. To cite but one statistic, individuals who are 50-59-years-old from the poorest fifth of the population are 10 times more likely to die than their contemporaries from the richest fifth.

    Speaking personally, the people I feel most uncomfortable talking with perma-tanned politicians in expensive, perfectly pressed suits with a record of shameless mendacity. Jack Straw’s complicity in the lies that led to the invasion and occupation of Iraq makes him responsible for divisions both domestic and foreign of far greater consequence, far greater menace to us all, than any woman walking the streets of Blackburn with her face veiled.

  109. Nyrone — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:44 pm  

    Could race be any more of a hot ‘news’ topic these days? Jack Straw had obviously planned this out in advance, relishing the prospect of getting his mug plastered across posters all over the world for a few days as he tries to raise his profile in that piece-of-crap he calls a political party.

    Anybody who watched Jack Straw get hammered on Question time can see that this worm of a man is simply intetrested in glorifying himself in the public arena and will do anything to make that happen. This comment had the desired reaction, and again has re-diverted away from more important and pressing issues…like how the FUCK can Tony Blair and John Prescott still be leading this country??

    What’s amazing to me is the ‘by the books’ approach that the ‘news media’ have now turned into a fine art…this 10-sec turnover, in which they literally (like a film-maker) get the 2-shot on everything…The comments…the angry reactions….more comments…more selective angry comments…copy history infomercial…paste ‘authority’ viewpoint…End..

    I feel sorry for sisters who are wearing the Burqa today, they are again going to be discriminated for doing……..nothing at all!

    Anyone seen the far-more telling and interesting story on CNN, about a student starting a ‘white man’s club’ due to feeling like an ethnic minority at his university campus? http://www.cnn.com
    That’s an interesting story, because the guy rightly says “if there can be an afro-american society, why can’t there be a caucasian one?”
    I liked this story, entirely because I had one opinion reading the headline and a completely different one after watching the report…..

  110. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:47 pm  

    Leon. One doesn’t need to know one is rude to be rude. I mean I often know I’m being rude, but sometimes I don’t and backtrack if I sense I have caused offense. Do you never do that?
    Let me put it in way that you might find easier to understand: one doesn’t need to know one is prejudiced to be prejudiced. Does that tug at a chord?
    Refusing to show your face to your neighbours, let alone the person you are speaking to, is bad manners IMNSHO.
    One could add that it is also a symbol of repression and likely mingerdom. And yes, that would be rude.

  111. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:49 pm  

    Chairwoman you don’t say anything controversial or that most people disagree with here. Nobody has a problem with modest clothing and hijabs etc, but they do think there is something deeply unsettling and pathological about veiling your face and it moves into another league by setting up the ultimate barrier between people. It is simply unnerving. If I walked into a room and half the people were wearing black balaclavas I would feel intimidated and insulted. It’s the same thing.

    One of the most interesting thing is the amount of Muslims on the CiF threads who are saying that they disagree with the face veil - this is obviously a thing that is debated within the Muslim community and something that many of them oppose.

    Leon, I think Mike Marqusee misses the point a little in his article.

  112. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

    Leon - LOL at last remark.

    I’m sure that all the veil-wearers and their supporters will say it’s not about vanity, but that must come into it, that and dominence (My women. Mine. So desirable, a glimpse of a tendril of her hair will drive a man mad with lust!).

  113. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:53 pm  

    Refusing to show your face to your neighbours, let alone the person you are speaking to, is bad manners

    I feel a similar unease but never thought they did it on purpose. If they’re not aware of it being rude or causing discomfort are they really to blame? I wouldn’t hold it against them if it wasn’t purposeful but would if it was.

    Anyway, you’re moving the goal posts, you said:

    I can’t help it… if a person thinks I’m not worthy of even the most minimal social interaction then they’re being fucking rude to me, end of.

    That’s an assumption on your part. I’ve never seen any data (or experienced this) that those wearing the veil are conciously doing so to offend. I’d like someone to show me it if I’ve missed it somewhere…

  114. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:55 pm  

    I’m sure that all the veil-wearers and their supporters will say it’s not about vanity, but that must come into it, that and dominence (My women. Mine. So desirable, a glimpse of a tendril of her hair will drive a man mad with lust!).

    How are you sure that vanity must come into it, what are you basing this on?

  115. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:57 pm  

    If the veil is to prevent lust and thoughts of fornication against the woman, what I can’t understand is why shouldnt Muslim men also wear the veil in this day and age, when homosexuality is so widespread (around 10% apparently!)

    I mean how do all the handsome and gorgeous brown eyed Muslim studs know they are not inciting lewd and sexual thoughts amongst gay men, who want to do various carnal things to them? Provoking them into fantasies of undressing these gorgeous specimens of manhood and doing naughty things of a homosexual pornographic nature to their unsheathed buttocks?

    And what about the nymphomaniacs out there, who can’t resist the beauty and gorgeousness of the Muslim men they see, and lust after them, causing them to have sinful thoughts?

    The real debate we should be having is not about Muslim women veiling themselves, but why more Muslim men also do not wear the facial veil, to save gays and nymphomaniacs from the temptation they so shamelessly promote by walking around unveiled.

    Can we have a debate on this please?

  116. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:58 pm  

    Moving the goalposts? What, you mean arguing that rudeness is not defined by cognitive awareness just as prejudice isn’t?
    I don’t think so. You’re ‘aving a bubble mate.

  117. Sunny — on 6th October, 2006 at 1:59 pm  

    PFM, heh.

    For me the problem is the reaction, not the comments themselves. I was a bit surprised that the niqab bothers Straw. It’s not been my experience that women who choose to wear the niqab as well as the hijab are handicapped by it in any way.

    Rohan - agreed. But I think the reaction is to be expected, from the Muslim commentators and from the Daily Mail crowd.

    I’m not so sure John Straw waded into this because of the atmosphere. He has a huge Muslim constituency and it’s not in his interests to alienate them - election or no election (he still has to win the seat back).

    The problem is more that even having a discussion about this subject throws all sane conversation out of the window and people play to expected roles - Muslims become defensive, the Daily Mail crowd start showing exaggerated signs of relief.

    It’s not as if the Daily Mail crowd is really interested in empowering Muslim women. That is merely an excuse. But similarly it seems the Muslim commentators don’t want to engage in a meaningful dialogue accepting that maybe some people do find it hard to deal with the veil. To them it’s a sign of Islamophobia when, if you watch an interview with Straw, anyone can see its rubbish.

    So we are faced (once again) with a facile debate. So it looks as if the clash of dialogue over such issues is to be expected.

  118. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    The whole shtick, from too beautiful to be seen, to look how observant I am.

    Conspicuous acts of piety in themselves are vanity. My theology’s pretty erratic, I think that has a Jesuit ring to it.

  119. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:02 pm  

    Chairwoman, people have complex identities. In my family, women will wear a chador when they go to particular areas where it is normal, and they argue with me that this is how they feel they ought to dress. They claim they feel it gives them dignity. I don’t know why. Most of the men I talk to there think it is old fashioned and should be got rid of.

    But as men, I guess, we don’t have the right to expect it of them to remove the chador.

    When they go back to the cities where they live, they take off the chador. Another choice. Do they feel better or worse for it? I assume they prefer it without, but they verbally tell me they don’t - but they could still take to wearing the chador then. Yet they say something about how it would make them stick out. Is this also patriarchal oppression? Perhaps it is.

    So should they insist on wearing the chador as a liberating act, or are they actually only pretending to want to wear the chador for complex personal reasons? Once I’ve asked my questions and expressed my puzzlement, I guess it is not my place to judge.

  120. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:02 pm  

    ha ha chairwoman you’re not far off the mark there! :-)

    people are obviously entitled to wear what they like - vanity usually has a large part to play though that in itself doesnt mean someone else can say oi you ought not to wear that cos its vain. whether it’s referring to some high fashion whatnot or what Chairwoman’s pointing to. nothing wrong with a bit of vanity.

    of course its a bit silly to go along with the idea that any inch of a woman is going to arouse some man. the men who subscribe to that idea don’t need any encouragaing. if someone wants to that’s their business but its useful to realize the cyclical aspects. e.g. some blokeys think ah yes we don’t have to do anything - onus on the women and some accept it - they’re good and the rest are all crap and we can do what we like with them.

    and as to covering up -if one completely draped themselves in tinfoil someone out there may feel ‘aroused’ by the thought of a female or the outline. who knows! what’s one to do - nihilate oneself!?

    amusingly in the subcontinent a lot of men go by that logic -ooh- if she’s that covered up she must be well pretty and harass her some more. or decide they want her for their girlfriend!

  121. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    I dont know Chairwoman. I don’t think outward signs of religion are nessecarily always vanity or boastful piety. My mother carries prayers beads everywhere she goes and in silent moments she takes them out and says her mantra, even on the bus. It depends on the person, and how they do it.

  122. Sid — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:08 pm  

    When I was a nipper, my mother and I used to travel a lot on London to Riyadh flights on British Airways. We always had a giggle at the Arab women who would board the flights wearing full burkha and as soon as the plane took off Riyadhi tarmac they would whip them off to display trendy body hugging western couture. How sensible, I thought.

    And that’s the way it should be. If you’re in the UK, you should realise that UK customs and culture exists and the the only compulsion that operates is one in which the the burkha has no place.

    IBurkha-wearing social patterns are based on class and economic background. Women have the right to wear the burkha if they want to. And no one in the UK will penalise you for exercising that right. I tend to recoil from commenters on this thread who liken the wearing of the burkha as somehow vulgar. But they’re just mean-minded dickheads (see Amir). All cultural norms can be regarded as vulgar if taken out of their context.

    Women should be allowed to wear the burkha if they want to. But sisters should remember that they have a responsibility to live and work in this country. To them I would say:

    You wanna get ahead
    Show your head

  123. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:11 pm  

    chicken and egg problem. and theres’ a long term aspect - when men are used to women covering up - if they don’t - it will look ‘odd’ and they may come and hassle you. which isn’[t a lot of fun. hence a lot of people will wear something more conservative if they go somewhere where they think that’s likely to happen. but again cyclical problem is that when that continues…it puts the responsibility of women having to conform to such codes. and if people don’t change that and carry on covering up it can contribute to the status quo. of course this all depends on the specific societal context.

    I always used to quote some enlightened mullah fellow in Kuwait who used to say that modesty depends on your context. so it can mean different things in different places. if you don’t want to attract undue attention to yourself and if that means you’re in an environment where wearing something is going to make you look outlandish e.g. that full veil thingie -it can end up meaning that one’s missed the point of the whole modesty thing.

    some of my friends when they go to Paris feel they can’t wear the short skirts they feel they can in London because they claim French man are so much more hassly than English men. interesting anecdote no?

  124. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:12 pm  

    Moving the goalposts? What, you mean arguing that rudeness is not defined by cognitive awareness just as prejudice isn’t?
    I don’t think so. You’re ‘aving a bubble mate.

    So you admit you’re placing assumptions with no objective basis? Good, we’ll move on. I didn’t say it wasn’t completely rude (personally I don’t have a big hang up about “rudeness” because in my experience the average Brit is pretty fucking rude, don’t believe me? Try getting on the tube in rush hour) just that without knowing their intent I wouldn’t hold it against them.

    Thankfully I don’t have to deal with hordes of veiled black clad women every day so my minimal discomfort and curiosity is limited.

    Jagdeep, 10%? Amongst Asian communities or Muslim ones? Never heard this figure before and you’re right if true that’s definetly a real spin on this whole thing!;)

  125. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:13 pm  

    Arif - I fully understand why your relatives wear the chador in some areas and not in others. We mostly have a desire not to stand out like a sore thumb.

    Sonia - Where’s Kismet? I would have thought tinfoil woman would be right up his street!

    Jagdeep - Lots of people indulge in a bit of quiet contemplation and prayer as they go about their business. It’s different. The covering up thing is so in-your-face. Also, how do we know who’s under there. Whoever said Straw should wear a balaclava was onto a winner for me.

    BTW does anybody know what Bluewater Shopping Centre’s policy is on veiled women? After all, hoodies and caps are banned as they conceal faces.

  126. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    Sid I heard the exact same story from my sister, when she was at university in London one of her best friends was an Iranian lady, and she told loads of stories like that, about middle eastern women jumping on a plane in a burqa, then landing in London, hitting the nightclubs in mini skirts, booby tops with bottles of vodka!

    Made me wish I knew more middle eastern ladies when I was a bachelor.

  127. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

    I always used to quote some enlightened mullah fellow in Kuwait who used to say that modesty depends on your context. so it can mean different things in different places. if you don’t want to attract undue attention to yourself and if that means you’re in an environment where wearing something is going to make you look outlandish e.g. that full veil thingie -it can end up meaning that one’s missed the point of the whole modesty thing.

    Interesting, does that mean that a veiled women should dress in a bikini when on a beach full of bikin clad women? Genuine question because I’ve not heard the concept of context placed on this interpretation before…

  128. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    The covering up thing is so in-your-face.

    On the average day how many times are you faced with it?

  129. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    Sonia - Your Kuwaiti mullah was spot on, regarding modesty.

    With regards to skirt lengths in different cities, as I said to Arif, mostly we don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.

    BTW, in the 60s, we wore our skirts about 4 inches shorter in London than they did in the north. The first time I went to Liverpool, people turned and looked at me in the street. The next day I went out and bought a pair of Levi’s.

  130. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:21 pm  

    good points Sid.

  131. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:21 pm  

    Leon I saw that 10% percentage in a Channel 4 News special on the gay community a while back featuring Peter Tatchell and those gay rights types. Probably exagerrated as all pressure groups tend to exaggerate figures. But nevertheless, it is a risk that Muslim men are so provocative by showing their faces and tempting 10% of the male population! Veils on the faces please men!

    some of my friends when they go to Paris feel they can’t wear the short skirts they feel they can in London because they claim French man are so much more hassly than English men. interesting anecdote no?

    Really Sonia? I saw loads of mini skirted women in Paris. They dressed really chic there. But I suppose they have a reputation like Italian men, of being bottom pinchers!

  132. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:22 pm  

    Well Leon, as I hardly go out at the moment, not so often. But I see women, or for all I know, woman, veiled, walking past my house every day.

    There’s another point. Security. If someone dragged the woman into a car, how would I describe her?

  133. Arif — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:22 pm  

    Okay Chairwoman, but you are still kind of reducing why people make their decisions to something that makes sense to you, but which they deny for themselves. They argue with me that the chador business is how things should be. That not wanting to stick out overrides this in a way which is (feintly IMO) repressive.

    And what is this slight repression then, if not fear of people’s judgments? And who is judging them? All of us. So if we want a more liberated society, we have to be prepared to withold judgment. Otherwise we are just setting up another system of conformity. And if men are powerfully involved in judging women through whatever means, that’s a patriarchal system.

    So that’s kind of what we have, here there and everywhere.

  134. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:25 pm  

    How many veiled woman are dragged into cars each year?

  135. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    I don’t know Leon, but if it’s one, it’s one too many.

  136. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    So if we want a more liberated society, we have to be prepared to withold judgment.

    Eh? How does that work? Witholding judgment doesnt lead to a more liberated society, it just leads to a society without a critical thought. Plus, as much as I support Muslim women’s rights, the idea that mainstream society has more bearing on women wearing the face veil through their ‘negative judgment’, than it does arise from pressure or judgment from Muslim men themselves is totally erroneous.

  137. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

    So if we want a more liberated society, we have to be prepared to withold judgment

    I have to say there are some parodies of petrified ‘leftist’ thinking, but this one really takes the biscuit!

  138. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:32 pm  

    jagdeep i don’t think chairwoman’s point has got much to do with your Mom’s beads..

  139. S — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

    Can we just lay one false analogy to rest.

    Talking on the phone or the radio is nothing like talking with someone wearing a full burqa.

    If I wanted to wear a balaclava whilst talking to someone on the phone that will pass un-noticed, but if I want to go and talk to my doctor wearing a balaclava he may consider it strange or perhaps even rude.

  140. Anas — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

    I wonder what the fuss would be like if a Muslim MP asked his female constituents not to wear short skirts and low cut tops during his surgeries because they were preventing him from looking at their faces? Outcry! He’d probably be accused of abusing his position as an MP to push his Islamic agenda as well as trying to impinge on a woman’s right to choose how she dresses.

    I personally find women wearing revealing clothing more distracting than women in burqas, so what, it’s an issue of freedom of choice? I find people getting legless outside pubs and creating no-go areas in the centres of towns personally offensive, but that is part of native British culture, and so cannot possibly be as upsetting as elements of imported, alien and foreign culture that a small minority of Muslim women adopt. Of course in the case of the full veil it’s also part of a growing trend towards the islamicisation of the UK, that’s growing apace. If we’re not careful, we’ll all be living in a Muslim majority country under shariah law.

    The fact is the current spate of stories about Muslims and the hysteria they provoke is not very well veiled racism. I hope I am paranoid, but the ease with which people can now openly make statements contrasting ‘us’ and ‘them’; the ‘them’ referring to all Muslims as one monolithic entity in all respects, all apologists for terrorism, all supporters of a British Islamic state, all unwilling to adopt Western values, all agitating for shariah law, etc, etc; is disturbing.

  141. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

    I do Sonia. I dont think that all outward displays of religious pratice or allegiance are nessecarily examples of vanity. Although in the category of the face veil they are of a different order altogether. So I guess my example was at a right angle to her point.

  142. Anas — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    corr:

    *The fact is the current spate of stories about Muslims are pandering to anti-Muslim prejudice and the hysteria they provoke is not very well veiled racism.

  143. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    Anas it would be disturbing if all people made those claims of homogeneity, but on the whole at least on this blog people do not. And it also helps if Muslims themselves do not homogenise through making blanket statements about the conspiracy against Islam and how all women are obliged to wear the veil etc. And the mini skirt thing is a completely different issue from someone covering their face up. If you went for an interview and the man interviewing you was wearing a balaclava it would be seen as rude.

  144. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:44 pm  

    Anas - I would fully support a Muslim MP asking an inappropriately dressed woman to cover up. I too find people getting legless outside pubs offensive, and despair that some areas are now preceded by no-go in the evening. However, it is the wearing of a veil that makes people uncomfortable, not long clothes, or headscarves or hijabs. I just want to know who I’m looking at, and conversely, who’s looking at me.

  145. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:48 pm  

    Chairwoman - and in your day you wear short skirts that made the blush in Liverpool! LoL — only joking, I agree with you on all of that # 144

  146. Anas — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

    Anas it would be disturbing if all people made those claims of homogeneity, but on the whole at least on this blog people do not.

    I agree, but I have noticed that this kind of thing is becoming more prevalent in the culture at large (for example Question Time last night).

    And it also helps if Muslims themselves do not homogenise through making blanket statements about the conspiracy against Islam and how all women are obliged to wear the veil etc. And the mini skirt thing is a completely different issue from someone covering their face up. If you went for an interview and the man interviewing you was wearing a balaclava it would be seen as rude

    It’s not ‘completely different’ in both cases you have a piece of clothing that is potentially very distracting and might offend someone’s sensibilities. As for the balaclava analogy, yes it would be seen as rude; however the veil does serve some kind of cultural/religious function and so I would be less likely to take someone wearing a veil as a personal affront. I feel uncomfortable with the full veil myself but I wouldn’t presume to tell adult women what they can and cannot wear. And yes, it probably is hindering community relations to some extent, but since the number of women wearing it is tiny, the fuss around the issue is undeniably disproportionate

  147. Chairwoman — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:51 pm  

    Ah Jagdeep, the follies of youth :-)

  148. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

    Leon. That’s cognitive awareness on the part of the person being rude, as you know. Your refs to the tube in rush-hour are also pretty lame and wide of the mark. I see examples of polite behaviour all the time on the London tube — far more than not. I also assume that the Brits you were referring to included moslems. As you say, we’ll move on.

    Sid: “Women should be allowed to wear the burkha if they want to.” Couldn’t agree more. But I reserve the right to think they look vulgar, stupid, submissive, pathetic and antisocial. Is that fair?
    I also defend society’s right to insist on full face driving licenses, etc, and to deny people who insist on not showing their face the opportunity to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other client-facing jobs. Moreoever, I also reserve the right to look down on the value-system that justifies the wearing of the niqab and to suspect that it is just a ruse of male repression. Thankfully, many British moslems don’t seem to buy it either.

    Sunny: Much as I admire you, your refs to the “Daily Mail crowd” seem a bit limp-wristed and lazy at times.

  149. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:00 pm  

    Chairwoman, no follies of youth - I bet you had (still have!) lovely legs.

    Anas, I think it’s two ways. On the one hand I agree that in the last few months it seems the media has become extraordinarily sensitive to hyping Muslim issues. But I see this as a direct response to the 7/7 attacks, and an attempt, however clumsy at times, to come to terms with the extremism amongst a section of Muslims. This becomes a faultline issue, because the veil is so unnerving and obviously a symbol of difference in a way that, for example, the hijab or beard is not, because it is so extreme and (excuse the pun) in-your-face.

    As for the numbers, in the country as a whole it may be small, but in Blackburn where 30% of his constituents are Muslim, it is probably a major issue, especially as he is seeing it more and more. I have noticed myself when I go to Muslim or mixed Asian areas that it has increased in the last few years. You really didnt used to see the burqa at all when I was growing up. So in short I agree with you to a certain extent, but I think the debate is worth having.

  150. bananabrain — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:10 pm  

    my two cents:

    sunny and amir, please be nicer to each other. you’re both intelligent people and have a lot to say. please stop winding each other up and particularly please stop calling each other racists. you’re wasting our scrolling fingers.

    i think it is the right of people to dress how they like - within reason. if i was to go to work in a job that required a uniform, i think that would be a reasonable thing to expect. some latitude might be possible in terms of headgear where there is not a safety issue.

    secondly, the existing situation is not a free-for-all. public nudity is prohibited as far as i remember. by the same token, there are certain places which require dress codes, like schools for example.

    thirdly, in situations where ID is required for security or authentication reasons, that should be non-negotiable. if you can’t wear a crash helmet in a bank, you shouldn’t be able to wear a veil either, otherwise soon all the armed robbers will get a sudden case of religion.

    fourthly, we should recognise that not all of this can be regulated and that there has to be a certain amount of give and take BY ALL CONCERNED if at least some semblance of a level playing field is to be maintained. if british culture is about anything, it should at least be about fair play, not certain groups (minority or majority) trying to get preferential or, at any rate, special treatment. believe me, we jews know all about that.

    fifthly, if anyone is going to object to this on grounds of culture, we should have a thoroughgoing discussion about the significance of hiding your face in british society, historically and presently. i would hazard a guess that it would reference such things as people who don’t want to be identified for various reasons, shame, religion, modesty, spying, secrecy, crime, security and so on and so forth. we need to understand why showing your face is important and respectful of your interlocutor. someone talked somewhere about how disempowered blind people feel when talking to someone who can see their expression when they can’t see the other’s. compare it to the feeling of someone watching you through a one-way mirror or those moving-eye-cutout paintings you get in kitsch creepy movies. if it makes british people feel uncomfortable they have to be able to verbalise it and discuss it, otherwise it will just be perceived as paranoia.

    sixthly, we should make it absolutely clear that people who wish to observe strict dress codes for whatever reason, within reason, ought to be able to do so if acting reasonably about it and taking reasonable precautions to avoid causing offence - it takes two to tango and that involves understanding and respecting the other - including non-muslims.

    seventhly, we should make an effort to really understand the precise parameters involved. i don’t know how many people know that the practice of veiling (as opposed to covering one’s hair) was actually originally introduced by the byzantine greeks - it’s not really islamic at all. i’m not talking about hijab or even jilbab or long chador here, which at least have some kind of sanction in islamic law - i am talking about the various different cultural practices some of which are overly paranoid.

    eighthly, we should be honest about the breadth of opinion, from those people who are doing it as an informed choice to those who are being peer-pressured, parent-pressured or just plain intimidated into it, or even those who are just ignorant about what is required from whom and when. i notice that there are plenty of muslim blokes walking around in shorts, which is, i believe, similarly problematic.

    believe me i know what i’m talking about here - we have our own issues around modest dress, which i will outline for anyone who’s interested. basically there are issues for both men and women. i personally have a problem for similar reasons as chairwoman, which is that arguments that “men might be excited and rape people” are frankly bollocks, disrespectful to both men and treat women like idiots. sure, as a man, i’m genetically programmed to look and to think about sex once every 20 seconds (or more frequently if you’re kismet) but it does not therefore follow that i will act on it. we don’t act on impulses, whatever culture we’re from. that’s called civilisation, consequences and social morality. it is incumbent upon us to be in control of ourselves and it is utterly unfair to victimise women just so men can avoid a problem.

    with that said, there remains an issue. clothing is essentially an indicator of touch-jurisdiction, religiously speaking. the veil in a jewish marriage is a gateway. it is the groom who veils the bride, thus indicating that any future ‘uncovering’ of any her is his privilege alone, subject of course to her continued approval. by the same token, her hair should only be shown to him (a custom more widely honoured in the breach than in the observance), hence hats, wigs, snoods and in some cases something approaching a hijab. i think that is a fair enough rationale, but precisely where the line gets drawn is i think a matter for individual lenience or stricture. i myself are happy for other men to see both my wife’s hair and her trousers. i am a bit ambivalent about bikinis to be honest but like sunbathing too much. on the other hand, i would be unhappy about her sunbathing topless and frankly prefer her to dress at least somewhat modestly, but this is a matter for us to negotiate between us. if we were more strict she’d not let people see her ankles or elbows and certainly not her knees, shoulders or cleavage. again, with all that said, there are a lot of pretty young observant women out there who are totally covered up, elbows to ankles, but still manage to be wearing extremely tight tops and figure-hugging long skirts and more power to them say i. there are of course groups like many chasidic sects who enforce near-total separation of the sexes even for eating, to say nothing of “bulletproof” tights for ladies and horrid long shapeless coats for both, as well as avoidance of eye contact between men and women. of course touching would be a serious problem as well.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  151. Sid — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    El Cid

    I think the garment is vulgar, stupid, pathetic and anti-social in the context of the West but I don’t believe people have the right to confer these to the woman who wears a Burkha. And this idea is good to reinforce this attitude within the confines of the West. And with any luck, it might even get transferred to the Orient.

  152. Anas — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    On the one hand I agree that in the last few months it seems the media has become extraordinarily sensitive to hyping Muslim issues. But I see this as a direct response to the 7/7 attacks, and an attempt, however clumsy at times, to come to terms with the extremism amongst a section of Muslims.

    You have more faith in the motives of newspaper editors than I have: I think the clumsiness is perhaps intentional. Obviously, pandering to the irrational prejudices of a large section of your target audience is nothing if not lucrative.

    It was inevitable that anger at the Muslim community as a whole would rocket as a result of 7/7, and that anti-Muslim hysteria, of the kind propagated by Amir or Bert Prest, would become more and more common. In this context, the more that the media focuses and builds on negative aspects of the Muslim community, especially when these aspects aren’t really widespread or common, then the more that Muslims will be alienated and the more the wider community will feel justified in their prejudices.

    It’s happened throughout history, with all the previous out groups, Jews, Catholics, afro-carribeans, etc. So I’m not surprised at the current situation.

  153. Jav — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:12 pm  

    Chairwoman: Anas - I would fully support a Muslim MP asking an inappropriately dressed woman to cover up.

    Could you imagine the Sun and Mail headlines? Further Islamisation of Britain! Muslim MP insults local woman by asking her to wear the burqa.

  154. Anas — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:12 pm  

    BTW, you can’t cover your face if you’re a woman when you go on Hajj

  155. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:21 pm  

    Your refs to the tube in rush-hour are also pretty lame and wide of the mark.

    I don’t think it is. Seriously use the Central Line and change at Bank during rush hour and you’ll see what I mean. When I went to Paris I was really shocked just how nice travelling Parisians were compared to Londoners. No pushing, no insults or dirty looks just politeness.

  156. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Anas there is some truth in what you say. My only problem would be if you dont take on board some serious concerns people have, in particular with this issue — bananbrain makes some good points here, and because of the thrust of the Daily Mail tendency, regard all people who discuss it as only doing it out of spite. You cannot say that, because it’s clear that not all people are coming from that angle.

    I think bananabrains post is the best so far because he comes at it from a perspective of someone with a background where issues of religious clothing and symbols have a great relevance too.

  157. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

    niqab, burkha.. which one’s which again?

    Sid: I’m sure you made a good point, but I’m not sure I got it.

    Leon: Don’t go to Tokyo then.

  158. Amir — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:28 pm  

    Leon

    ‘Cheers for the attempt at derail Amir…prick.’

    Since none of you have bothered to mention the rioting in Paris or in Brussels – which, in my opinion, is far more significant than this shameless publicity stunt by a Deputy-Prime-Minister-in-waiting Jack Straw, I thought I might point it out. And I intended to leave it at that, until having to justify myself (once again) to accusations of hating brown people and of trying to cause a panic. Isn’t it also funny how right-wing capitalists accuse the global-warming lobby of ‘scaremongering’, and when they do they are denounced (quite rightly in my opinion) of trying to gloss-over some very serious issues. Yet when people like myself are worried about the impending apartheid in our European cities, we are automatically denounced by the politically-correct establishment of ‘scaremongering’? The hypocrisy here is both shameful and unpardonable.

    To be honest, I couldn’t give two-flying hoots about what British Moslems wear. If devout and pious women want to walk around like bin-bags, then that’s up to them – just as it is up to many of my own friends to walk around in intimidating chains and hooded jumpers (which, of course, I disapprove of).

    Moreover, I do not have any time whatsoever for John Reid’s state-sponsored scaremongering, aka ‘The War on Terror’, which is a lot more damaging to inter-communal fraternity than a mature and civilised discussion about the current levels of immigration, overseas marriage, and the destabilising effects of globalisation. Cut down on the number of migrants (& introduce immigration preferences). Outlaw overseas marriage; that is to say, prevent spouses in faraway lands from being awarded automatic citizenship. Introduce tighter border controls. Make the English language a compulsory means of citizenship rather than an optional extra. Stop pandering to aggressive Islamist lobbies and their habitual bouts of manufactured rage. Ditch any of the proposed counter-terror laws, which are bound to infringe on our civil liberties without necessarily increasing security. Be more critical of the United States (and of Israel) when they violate the most basic tenets of human morality (for example: Copper Green / Guantanamo Bay / Iraq / daisy-cutter attacks on innocent Pakistanis / air-raid attacks on Lebanese villages and infrastructure etc.). Reform the BBC and make it less pro-Ummah. Moslem outrage is almost 99% hypocrisy.

    However, in saying this, I do apologise for derailing the thread. Originally that was not my intention – though it is fair to say that it is one of my blogging vices. I would appreciate it however if Sunny would stop playing the race card (even in jest). The fact that he can take such malicious pleasure in daubing my name shows that he is lacking the true qualities of a man who is genuinely inspired by Buddhism.

    Moreover, I have just opened my dusty inbox… your e-mail is very sweet. Thank you. Let me just say, too, that your contributions to PP over the past few weeks are like a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

    Now, an answer to your question: I’d like to start my own blog. Yes. But it carries with it a burden of responsibility and negativity. False accusations of skin-hatred are so cruel and personally offensive that I’m not so sure if I could cope with the constant barrage of hate-mail and venomous inbox comments.

    Amir

  159. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:29 pm  

    which one’s which again?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/europe_muslim_veils/html/1.stm

  160. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Amir, apologies about the insult, it’s been a very very long week and this thread aint doing my teeth (I grind them something chronic while annoyed) any favours.

    I don’t think the blog carries any of that if you don’t want it too. The main reason I suggested it is you always have a lot to say (whether I like it or not!) and that tells me you should be writing something regular.

    I say go for it, write it for a bit and see how you feel and how it’s recieved (if noticed at all). If you don’t like it it’s no loss but if you do it’s a real gain.:)

  161. Leon — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    Right, I’m bored of this thread now and yeah I know I put it up but sometimes I’m my own worst enemy!

    I’m off to the weekend thread for some sillyness…:D

  162. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

    Oh I see, the Dalek look as opposed to the post-box look

  163. El Cid — on 6th October, 2006 at 3:35 pm  

    (I grind them something chronic while annoyed)

    That’ll be the charlie

  164. The Sharpener » Blog Archive » What not to wear — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

    […] 6) Boundaries. As my friend Arif said, people make their boundaries differently. “Some wear niqab and that contributes to minor tensions in society. Some pass judgment on them and contribute tensions themselves. We’re still mostly good people trying our best.” […]

  165. Jai — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    I would like to mention a quote from a famous Indian film called “Mughal-e-Azam”. It’s part of the lyrics of a song performed by the heroine Anarkali in front of the Mughal Emperor Akbar.

    “Pardaa nahin jab koi khudaa se,
    Bando se pardaa karnaa kyaa”

    Loose translation: “When nobody is veiled from God, what is the point of veiling in front of Man ?”

    Something to think about.

  166. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:09 pm  

    Maybe they are veiled for a more prosaic reason; they are ugly

    You see ZinZin, that just proves you are obnoxious and a very hostile and rude man, and that you don’t really give a damn about Muslim women at all. Posing as their righteous advocate, in reality you’re just an obnoxious fart.

    Thanks for taking it seriously moron. No else did yet you take the bait and swallowed it whole.

    Obviously Miss United Kingdom would give me an ear-bashing.

  167. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:12 pm  

    im sure Jag. i didn’t say my friends lived in paris did i?:-) and i wasn’t commenting on french women on a whole! i think that’s part of the point if you go somewhere you’re not used to you’ll might feel less at home and more in need to be on the safe side.

  168. Jagdeep — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

    ZinZin (Twat) - shove it up your arse you obnoxious old anal abcess :-)

  169. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:29 pm  

    ZinZin (Twat) - shove it up your arse you obnoxious old anal abcess

    Touchy. I am 25 Jagdeep so less of the old.

  170. Kulvinder — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

    Actually, it’s a sad indictment of what passes for logic in this place. As I said in another thread, I wish people would deal with the issues raised without constant demands about people’s backgrounds and a subsequent dismissal of their arguments as ‘that of swarthy/white types who hate clean shaven/bearded white/swarthy men’.

    This is the logic of Malkit X (”You are just threatened by the power of my ethnic sexuality!”).

    Actually i just found the thought of having an infatuation with an anus very funny…plus sunny is practically an albanian so the colour thing was…look it war early in the morning. :(

  171. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

    Dispatches are having a on-off studio special on Islam and free speech. Tickets are available. This is far more important than the veil question.

  172. Robert Sharp — on 6th October, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…

    I say to these women: Why do you deny me your smile?

    ……

  173. sonia — on 6th October, 2006 at 5:57 pm  

    well hasn’t this thread descended into mayhem..

  174. Bert Preast — on 6th October, 2006 at 6:21 pm  

    Why do some wear a veil and eye make-up?

  175. Chris Stiles — on 6th October, 2006 at 6:29 pm  

    Kulvinder -


    Actually i just found the thought of having an infatuation with an anus very funny…plus sunny is practically an albanian so the colour thing was…look it war early in the morning.

    It certainly was - and my comments were aimed at what you were commenting on, rather than your comments themselves.

    Peace

  176. SPEEDY — on 6th October, 2006 at 7:12 pm  

    Could be muslim men ogle at other women and they don’t want their women to be ogled at.
    Muslim men have dirty minds and they think everyone is the same.

    Above is a generalisation, obviously does not apply to all muslim men.

  177. ZinZin — on 6th October, 2006 at 8:33 pm  

    Maybe its a bus pass thing?

  178. limpia — on 6th October, 2006 at 10:06 pm  

    Interesting, indeed, how this thread is ending. Also, interesting to read pickled politics. I can see why a friend’s son,who had recently spent a term in London from nyc said he loved London but found the people to be rather overly sarcastic and insulting, ofttimes, especially after hearing his accent. U may wonder why i bring it up, but u must know that there is a realand distinct flavor to this site.

    BTW- wear anything, but do not cover the face- it can be a security risk anywhere -not only a bank, school etc

  179. Indigo Jo Blogs — on 6th October, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    Open season on Muslims…

    It seems to have been open season on Muslims in the media the last few days, with three inflammatory anti-Muslim stories becoming front page news in either the morning or the evening papers in as many days. First it was the Pc Bashar story, which turn…

  180. Electro — on 7th October, 2006 at 12:52 am  

    What Amir has been saying about the rioting in Paris and Brussels is quite true.

    Ignore it or minimise it at your own peril, Sunny.

    If the authorities don’t grow the cujones to deal with what is becomming an intractable and unlivable probleme, then the Far Right is destined to grow by leaps and bounds.

    I spend a great deal of time parusing the news stories circulating in the francophone world, and what’s amazing is that there are actually Blacks, Jews and even secular Arabs who are turning to the Far Right.

    Europe’s elites are sensing that they’re in a very sticky wicket here, as well.

    If French policemen, for example, begin refusing to patrol whole areas of France’s larger cities ( there are riots in other centres apart from Paris), then what is left of the Euro elite’s legitimacy?

    Whole sections of Paris have become no-go areas for non-muslims, and in those islamist dominated no-go areas women have NO choice whatsoever when it comes to dress.

    Islamic dress codes are imposed on ALL women and, if needs be, that imposition is achieved through violence.

    There is also a supreme irony in Sunny’s attitude to Islamic issues and his denial of the seriousness of the situation.

    You see, Sunny is a Sikh, and Sikhism was founded, at least in large part, as a Hindu reaction to the extreme violence of the Arabo-Muslim invasions of South Asia.

    It is a warrior caste whose main raison d’etre was the defense of India.

    So Sunny’s very existance, his faith, his culture, his traditions are themselves proof of Islam’s penchant for violence.

    But then “brown” is sometimes irony tone-deaf, isn’t it Sunny?

  181. Sunny — on 7th October, 2006 at 1:14 am  

    Electro: What Amir has been saying about the rioting in Paris and Brussels is quite true

    The only people who still believe the Paris riots were some sort of an Islamic inspired intafada are rejects like Melanie Phillips, Rod Liddle, Amir and the American JihadWatch, LGF crew. I have the right to ignore completely stupid analysis and thanks I will choose to exercise that right in this instance.

    Every self-styled commentator is conjuring up intafadas these days and frankly that makes them look more stupid than it impacts me. If you want informed and nuanced commentary / analysis then come to PP, if you want scare-mongering about the coming Islamic / brown takeover then go to JW, LGF and Michelle Malkin. I’m not fussed and I’m not going to be persuaded by hyperbole.

    As for teaching me about Sikhism, I’d advise you not make yourself sound even more idiotic. I know the ideals and history behind Sikhism thanks, and I’ve written about it here.
    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/757

  182. limpia — on 7th October, 2006 at 1:34 am  

    i think the answer lies in between the two theories-

  183. saurav — on 7th October, 2006 at 3:29 am  

    His comment, imo, is totally fine as an expression of personal opinion:

    Asked if he would support the idea of the full veil being abandoned altogether, he said: “Yes. It needs to be made clear I am not talking about being prescriptive but, with all the caveats, yes, I would rather.”

    This is sensitive and, while you might disagree with it, is not really all “intolerant” in my opinion.

    What is, though, stupid, divisive, dangerous, and possibly calculated is that he is a prominent official with a lot of power who is speaking as a non-Muslim. For him to say this in such a contentious time is remarkably irresponsible. If he really wanted to address the actual issue instead of creating headlines like “British Official Criticizes Muslim Veil” he ought to have taken a less public way of going about it.

    One would hope that he would have used better judgement, and given his experience, I wouldn’t have a problem with people reluctant to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  184. Electro — on 7th October, 2006 at 4:56 am  

    Sunny, you simply don’t know anything about the francophone world and that ignorance shows

    I can understand your objectives, your true agenda, and I can see how you hoodwink unsuspecting Brits by playing their post-colonialist guilt like a stradivarius, but that doesn’t work with me.

    Whole neighbourhoods of Paris are becomming no-go areas for non-muslims, and in those no-go areas females are forced, sometimes with violence, to adopt islamic clothing.

    Gov’t studies, the results of which were supressed to avoid Chirac any embarassment,
    clearly demonstrate that islands of “terre d’islam” are making their appearance and that on those islands basic rights for women no longer apply. Muslim females, as french order breaks down, are becomming castaways with little or no hope of rescue.

    On the educational front, women in these areas, owing to pressure from the males of their families, are asking to be excused from whole sectors of the school curriculum.

    They “refuse” to study music, to attend art class, to read works of literature with romantic themes and many “won’t” participate in phys-ed.

    They’ve been ordered not to, you see.

    To boot, the whole muslim-as-progressive charm narrative is now exhausted, and prematurely, I might add, owing to the haste, impatience and lack of self-controle on the part of the more radical islamist elements.

    And the pundits, who but a few years ago regularly championned the Muslim community, have been left red-faced with shame as the islamist agenda, an agenda once dismissed as “paranoid” becomes a reality. They squandered their hard-earned reputations blindly supporting the imposition of a partial islamist theocracy across France in the childish belief they were being progressive, open-minded and tolerant.

    You, Sunny, are in the process of committing a similar error.

    Women posters should here take note of what’s happened in France and never, ever assume their basic rights have iron-clad guarantees.

    The worst, though, is yet to come as France’s next gov’t may well be Far Right… although it may not be the FN…. as people of all colours and creeds, except Islam of course, fess up to the fact that huge numbers of muslims refuse to integrate, intermingle or even interact, in any meaningful way, with the larger society.

    What’s more, with accelerating developments in the fields of robotics and automation all this cheap labour becomes redundant and the enormous costs involved in accommodating it’s cultural and religious diktats unnecessary.

    France’s experiment with Islam is now a negative-sum game.

    A blunt, swift, surgical de-islamisation of every aspect of the public sphere is in the works, thus.

    And France’s Muslim community will be facing some very brutal and some very stark choices, “civilisational choices”, for which they’ll have only themselves to blame.

    And as a general rule of thunb, as goes France, so goes England.

    Trust me, the tolerance quota has been filled.

  185. sokari — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:27 am  

    Jagdeep

    would you dare to speak that about a Hassidic Jew in full attire. Why should your daughter be afraid - and if she is you could try explaining that to her to quell her fear. No it is you who is afraid - afraid of difference, threatened by difference by people who do not want to buy into your way of life but want to live their own in peace. In what way does a veiled woman harm you or your family

  186. sokari — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:31 am  

    You can include nuns and buddhist priests as well in the list not to speak of gothics, and any other group of people that DARE to dress differently - to act different.

  187. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:44 am  

    sokari - like it or not, small children unused to seeing veiled women, find them frightening. They have no idea if the the veiled person is friendly, threatening, or even what sex they are. Nuns, Bhuddist Priests, Hassids, etc., may dress differently, but one can still see their faces.

  188. soru — on 7th October, 2006 at 10:15 am  

    What is, though, stupid, divisive, dangerous, and possibly calculated is that he is a prominent official with a lot of power who is speaking as a non-Muslim.

    That’s an interesting point. Previously, the government, if it wanted to make this kind of point, would have asked a friendly ‘community leader’, perhaps from the MCB, to do so.

    That approach has been criticised a lot, not least by Sunny.

  189. captain — on 7th October, 2006 at 11:42 am  

    To live in harmony, people communicate with each other, not just by talking but by body language, facial expressions, smiling etc.
    Neighbourhoodly feeling is thus created in local communities.
    People say ‘hello’, or converse about the weather, or just smile when passing each other in the street. However one cannot do this with a veiled woman. One does not know who she is, whether its the same woman living in house number 34 or someone else. Even if i knew who the woman was, i would not acknowledge her, the veil puts out a statement (righly or wrongly) - “I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW YOU”. How is one to establish community relationships?

    I am not anti muslim. I have a fair few muslims living in my street and we say hello. Even the hijab wearing Muslim women sometimes acknowledge me by smiling or saying hello. But a veiled woman, is just a barrier.

    I apologise if my feelings upset someone.

  190. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 12:18 pm  

    captain - ‘Even’ the hijab wearing Muslim women sometimes acknowledge me…’

    I think that statement stands alone.

  191. Sunny — on 7th October, 2006 at 2:05 pm  

    Electro: yeah, whatever. Like I said earlier, water of a duck’s back.

  192. ZinZin — on 7th October, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

    ‘The veil is not merely a piece of “cloth”, but a sign of the oppression of women, control over their sexuality, submissiveness to the will of God or a man. The veil is a banner of political Islam used, to segregate women born by historical accident in the so-called “Islamic World” from other women in the rest of the world.’

    Go to the Cif pages of the guardian and read Houzan Mahmoud article. It sums up my views on the veil perfectly.

    From the anal abcess. I love your verbal thuggery Jagdeep and you lack of humour.

  193. Katy Newton — on 7th October, 2006 at 3:07 pm  

    if you want scare-mongering about the coming Islamic / brown takeover

    Sunny, this “brown takeover” is something that you keep referring to recently, and I don’t think it’s fair. Misrepresentations assist no-one and I am unhappy about your recent habit of labelling people like Amir, instead of dealing with what they say. If I were Amir I would have stopped commenting after that, to be honest, because it really was a gross misrepresentation of what he actually said. There are a number of commentators apart from him who have ideological concerns about what they see as the public face of Islam at the moment - but the vast majority of them manage to comment without descending into personal nastiness, and none of them have suggested that they are concerned about a “brown takeover”. That’s you putting words in their mouths, and it isn’t fair.

    I am as concerned about Islamic extremism as I am about any other extremism. I don’t make the mistake of thinking that Islamic extremism is representative of real Islam any more than I think that the BNP is representative of English people. Common sense is needed here. I strongly agree with you that people need to be more dispassionate and analytical about what they read and how Muslims are portrayed in the media. If I were a Muslim I would dread opening a newspaper or watching the news at the moment. And for non-Muslims it is difficult to resist the panic-mongering - I am very careful to remember that not a single one of the many Muslims I actually know is anything like Omar Bakri Mohammed or Abu Hamza or any of the other lunatics who are trotted out as representative of Islam, and I think that other people who have commented here should try to do the same before they judge.

    It is natural for people to be influenced by what they read; most people aren’t in a position to test the facts in the newspaper for themselves. A website like this has a real opportunity to correct the balance and inject some common sense into the debate. You won’t stop people from stereotyping and panicking if you smear them with the “racist” label and ignore everything else that they say. Try explaining why they are wrong instead. I’m not saying that there won’t come a point in some cases where further dialogue is futile, but you’ve got to try dialogue first, I think.

  194. Sunny — on 7th October, 2006 at 3:21 pm  

    Kay to clarify quickly, as I have to head out now…

    the Islamic takeover rhetoric flows through most of Amir’s posts. He thinks when any Muslim person is being a criminal it is intrinsically linked with his religion and is part of some conspiracy. The reference to Paris and Brussels riots is symptomatic of that.

    With regards to the “brown takeover”. Here, this refers to his constant crying in previous threads about the so-called demise of the West because its lower birthrate and how the East will be more powerful.

    For example:
    However: An important point to note is that the correlation between the death of religious faith and the death of peoples and civilisation is absolute. I believe that the death of Christianity in the soul of Western man, and its replacement by a more materialistic, hedonistic, atomistic, post-modern ethic, and the embrace of abortion combined, mean that Western man has consumed a poison that is killing him. Peoples that no longer believe in the faith out of which their culture and civilisation came will not sustain that civilisation. It’s very simple.

    See the conspiracy thread. I thought it was hilarious. In a manner of weeks Amir has turned into a rationalist libertarian to someone who now imminently sees almost every action by a Muslim as causing the imminent demise of “the west” (aren’t there Muslims in the west?) and the imposition of their way of life on his etc. In short he’s becoming as loony as his idol Melanie Phillips.

  195. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    I don’t actually know which thread to post this on. I’m going for this one, because I know people will want to see what Katy’s said, and I hope they’ll stay here to read this.

    As some of you know, I am a secret watcher of bad daytime cable. Today I was watching ‘The Wonder Years’ (or the Wonder Stuff as I just called it to Katy). The mawkish episode I was watching ended with Bob Dylan singing ‘The Times they Are A’Changing’.

    I was about 17 when I first heard Bob Dylan and he truly expressed what my generation hoped for. We hoped for: An end to war; no nuclear proliferation (at least); nations/peoples trying to reach out to others; religious tolerence; liberalisation of drug laws; Governments acting for their constituents. Well, 40 years on, not too much has changed.

    And what has changed has changed for the worst. And I look at you, the now generation, and I shudder. Tell me, what have you done with the world? We have the best part of 200 comments on whether a woman should cover her face or not. We have a man saying he doesn’t mind if people see his wife’s hair and trousers. Another who feels most comfortable when he’s talking to a woman covered from head to foot with only her eyes showing. These are subjects that should have been left behind 40 years ago, and they were. But people are reverting to arcane philosophies that are divisive. Yes people should practice their religion, if they want to, but religions should have moved on. Frankly I think we do G-d (look at me, so conditioned that I cannot write the word completely even in cyberspace), or whatever you call him, a disservice. If one believes in Him, and believes that everything eminates from Him, then aren’t we insulting Him by rejecting the advances He has given us?

    Lighten up. Be the ‘Progressive Generation’ not the reactionary one.

  196. Barbara Meinhoff — on 7th October, 2006 at 4:07 pm  

    By the way, there is also a variation of the Niquab (face covered, eyes visible) that I’ve seen Arab women in London wearing.

    Instead of a cloth covering the nose and mouth, the women had a metal grill attatched to the sides of their black headscarves. This would help avoid the shameful and degrading act of being seen eating in public, which would obviously be too outrageous an act to contemplate.

    Whether this is religious practice or some sort of Sado-Masochistic preference is not in my knowledge. There were a group of these middle aged women haggling over the price of jewellery in Liberty. I will surely fail to enter paradise for immediately thinking of Terry Jones in the Life of Brian.

  197. Barbara Meinhoff — on 7th October, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

    Hot throbbing Hijab action:

    http://www.thehijabshop.com/

    A quick search also yields several websites advertising ’stylish fashions for Hijabs’ (shukr.co.uk)

    Surely a contradiction in terms?

    Or is the thing that not even the Islamists and the pious would dare to contemplate is this:
    Its a frivolous fashion to wear this for some women, as they see all their friends ewearing it and want to fit in.

    There has definitely been an increase in wearing the Niquab/ abaya etc. The news channels have turned up a lot of footage of women wondering round Straw’s constituency en masse wearing this. Its defintely more than 20 odd years ago. The thing is, women of my parents generation tend to view the covering as a sign of shame “only the promiscuous wear them as they have something to hide” etc. We tend to make the shorthand assumption that Modesty = Purity = Piety (hence Leon’s rather odd question as to whether many women in veils get snatched into cars. Do you mean hair really does induce insane lust in men? Are unveiled women ‘rapeable’?)

    A couple of years ago, there was a documentary called Bitches and Beauty Queens about the Miss India contest.
    As expected, most were braying moneyed IT girls busy pissing away daddy-ji’s hard earned money. Except one. She was the only Muslim contestant, and was always interviewed in full modest garb.

    She was also a lingerie model.

  198. Sahil — on 7th October, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    LOL

  199. Electro — on 7th October, 2006 at 5:24 pm  

    “However: An important point to note is that the correlation between the death of religious faith and the death of peoples and civilisation is absolute. I believe that the death of Christianity in the soul of Western man, and its replacement by a more materialistic, hedonistic, atomistic, post-modern ethic, and the embrace of abortion combined, mean that Western man has consumed a poison that is killing him. Peoples that no longer believe in the faith out of which their culture and civilisation came will not sustain that civilisation. It’s very simple.”

    If Brits here have trouble with that passage, they need only look at France. “Douce” France.

    All civilisations are anchored in transcendant principles that give them order, coherence and meaning.

    When those ordering principles are abandonned the civilisation that once ‘informed’ by them loses its cohernece, as well, and begins dying.

    It becomes a shapeless lump of flesh with no skeleton, no ‘form’.

    Katy: You’ve zeroed in on Sunny’s “brown” references and rightly so.

    He is obsessed with skin-colour, consumed with resentiment against The West and, like his “progressive” fellow-travellers, eager to see the demise of our culture, which explains why he champions anyone or anything, no matter how ludicrous, repressive and medieval, that opposes our way of life.

    He thinks that way, not because he’s deceitful or crafty or sly or dishonest, but rather because he’s been indoctrtinated by self-hating white leftists.

    He is Marcuse’s butler AND Faucault’s parrot!

    “Progress” amounts to nothing more than sticking it to The West.

    He’s in the business, thus, of generating racial conflict, and so his motives and reasoning differ very little from those of the Far Right.

    But he knows, though, that being ..well..nominally “brown” most Brits will automatically give him a pass….. for fear of appearing gauche and untoward.

  200. Katy Newton — on 7th October, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    Oh dear. Electro, you’re now doing to Sunny exactly what I took issue with in the first place. Sunny isn’t anti-West or anti-white at all, nor is he in the business of generating racial conflict. If you go through the archives you’ll see that he frequently slaps down any commentators who defend extremism, and if you look at MPACUK’s message boards you’ll see that they absolutely loathe him because of his trenchant criticism of their stance. I felt that he had misinterpreted what other people were saying recently, and that he could have responded more fully, but to say that he “champions anyone or anything, no matter how ludicrous, repressive and medieval, that opposes our way of life” is… well, it’s ridiculous, I’m afraid.

    And now I am going back to the open thread, which I should clearly never have left in the first place…

  201. Sunny — on 7th October, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

    Katy - see what I mean? heh.

    Chairwoman - I think it’s a bit utopian to believe we will get rid of nukes, have peace in our lifetime etc. We must embrace the fact there will always be evil and bad things, and that we have to fight on the side of good (though I accept everyone thinks this, to me good means pacificism, non-nuclear proliferation etc). It’s an ongoing battle to be honest. It won’t go away.

  202. Electro — on 7th October, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    http://judeoscope.ca/breve.php3?id_breve=2706

  203. jonz — on 7th October, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

    How angry are Muslims?

  204. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 7:28 pm  

    Sunny - From today’s perspective I have no doubt that you’re right.

    You, however, have no idea how close we were to real change in the late 60s/early 70s. There was a genuine breaking down of barriers and expansion of radical thinking, and this was not just among the chattering classes of the day, but across the socio/political divide. Don’t forget, this was a time when a high Tory PM spoke about the ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’.

    Unfortunately, our elders wanted to run before they could walk, and excessive union zeal brought in a Tory government not headed by a Heath or a Hesletine, but by Margaret Hilda Thatcher, and we all know how that ended.

    What I would like to know is where is the generation that wants change and the breaking down of barriers, because a lot that I see here is people wanting to keep them or build them higher.

  205. Jai — on 7th October, 2006 at 7:45 pm  

    =>”Sikhism was founded, at least in large part, as a Hindu reaction to the extreme violence of the Arabo-Muslim invasions of South Asia…..It is a warrior caste whose main raison d’etre was the defense of India.”

    This isn’t actually correct, but since it’s off-topic (and Sunny’s already responded to it), I’ll let it pass on this particular occasion.

  206. Sunny — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:03 pm  

    Hmmm, yeah I see your point Chairwoman. There was revolutionary fervour then, not today.

    I happen to believe these things go in cycles. I have no doubt in a decade or two social inequality will get so bad that the revolutionary fervour of the 60s will come back again. Maybe earlier, maybe later. I think human change goes like a pendelum… back and forth. Swinging from one extreme to another.

    Jai, I always find it hilarious when bigots try and paint Sikhism as some anti-Muslim religion. As if Sikhs should be their ally in bigotry. Heh.

  207. Don — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:06 pm  

    Chairwoman,

    I think you are taking a rather jaundiced view. We’re from roughly the same generation, but from my perspective things have got better. We have a new crop of problems and the old ones haven’t quite vanished, which is the way of the world. It’s always going to be a slog.

    But ‘where is the generation that wants change and the breaking down of barriers?’. What an odd question, given that you only need look to your offspring; as do I.

  208. fugstar — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:11 pm  

    Currents in Muslm opinion and practice will no doubt evolve with time and place, but not on a blog timescale, more on a human lifetime time scale. What will endure after this ‘debate’ will probably be mutual discomfort, epsecially amongst young women and men (weird that). great leadership guys!

    Its sad that Straws political statement will have castrating effect on the Islamic opinions that do not promote the full covering. His statement cant be taken out of the political atmosphere. I think he knows that and we know that.

    Muslims… we have a kind of anarchic religious knowledge culture, yes there are scholars of various refinement and ways of thinking, but no real hegemony on the majority of piddly little matters. The ‘rootedness of though in a certain place, takes a while to become established, so the uk scene may not be as settle as …say the misty mountains of morocco.

    thats what folks arent understanding, the deep plurality, the polyphony. Straw is just adding cacophony.

    We live together well (on the whole) in the UK, i wonder why he made a big deal out of this and why others are being so creepy. The community is being discursively battered like no other i can think of. The LEAST guilty of violent criminality are the muslim women.

    but folks, after you have had your valuable ‘debate’ are we seriously advocating some kinda state/social coercion concerning womens clothing? thats plain nutty!

    arent the barriers in the mind? Isn’t there something +ve to be said about ladies taking control over the way they present themselves.

    very revealing clothing vs non revealing attire.

  209. Barbara Meinhoff — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:37 pm  

    No No No Jonz, that opinion poll won’t give you any indication to the state of outrage in the Ummah.

    What you need is this, courtesy of the Religious Policeman:

    http://muttawa.blogspot.com/2006/01/cartoons-offense-level-raised.html
    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7374/334/1600/200-hsas-chart.jpg

    Current state of Offence:
    “HIGH
    Meaning - We are extremely offended by a particular individual or country
    Non-Muslim response - That individual or country must apologize
    Consequence of non-compliance - Individual; Fatwa, assassination, or both. Country; Boycott (unless you export things the Saudi Royal Family are consumers of), and Saudi newspapers write a long string of boring and repetitive articles that you will never read but will drive Saudi readers to distraction.”

  210. jonz — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:44 pm  

    Hehe.. The second link doesn’t work though Barbs :(

  211. Kulvinder — on 7th October, 2006 at 8:54 pm  

    Out of curiosity do those of you who think that someones entire face is needed for meaningful communication find it a problem to use the internet?

  212. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:15 pm  

    Kulvinder - To a degree, yes. And texting’s even worse. Earlier this week Jagdeep said something to me which I took to mean something totally opposite to what he meant. I couldn’t see his face. If I had, the mistake wouldn’t have occurred.

  213. Kulvinder — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:33 pm  

    Personally i prefer written communication to face-to-face meetings *shrug*

  214. Chairwoman — on 7th October, 2006 at 9:38 pm  

    Chacon a son gout.

  215. sunray — on 8th October, 2006 at 12:15 am  

    not read any of the above

    How do muslims feel if their mother covered her face forever?
    Just imagine you cant see her anymore!!!!!!!

  216. Jai — on 8th October, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

    Sunny,

    Re: post #206

    You’re right — it also shows a lack of understanding of Sikh history and indeed the principles of the religion itself, along with the contents of the Guru Granth Sahib.

    I think the following statement should be modified as follows:

    =>”It is a warrior caste whose main raison d’etre was the defense of India.”

    No. Sikhs are supposed to be saint-soldiers (emphasis on the “saint”) whose main raison d’etre is spiritual fusion with God and the defence of the entire human race without bias or prejudice, ie. persecuted & oppressed individuals & groups with no distinction given to the latter’s ethnicity, nationality or formal religious affiliation.

    As Kismet Hardy mentioned during his tongue-in-cheek “survey” a few weeks ago, I don’t like having to resort to religious matters in order to explain things, but sometimes it’s necessary to do so.

  217. the satirical muslim — on 8th October, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

    Jack Straw to Muslims: “This isn’t about you.”…

    Jack Straw, recently fired by the Bush Administration as British Foreign Minister, has sparked a controversy in the United Kingdom with remarks critical of the veil worn by some Muslim women. Speaking at a Labour Party conference, Mr Straw said that he…

  218. Sunny — on 8th October, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

    Sikhs are supposed to be saint-soldiers (emphasis on the “saint”) whose main raison d’etre is spiritual fusion with God and the defence of the entire human race without bias or prejudice, ie. persecuted & oppressed individuals & groups with no distinction given to the latter’s ethnicity, nationality or formal religious affiliation.

    Nail on the head.

  219. Jagdeep — on 8th October, 2006 at 3:40 pm  

    sokari

    Dare to speak like what about an Hassidic Jew? If my daughter is frightened by the sight of women in burqa, which to a six year old girl not used to seeing such things is understandable, I can only articulate what is a reality - some people find it unsettling! That’s what debate is all about.

    Yo ZinZin, I just don’t find you funny, but stick around and join in, we have good joke cracking sessions here sometimes.

    Nail on the head

    Yeah Sunny, but some of the Sikhs need to have a nail hammered into their heads these days to make them realise that!

  220. Jai — on 8th October, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

    You know — linking this to Sunny’s valid points on the “Media stupidity” thread — I really think that many in the media and indeed in the public too are now using any excuse to attack Muslims. Jack Straw made a correct-but-ill-timed comment about veiled Muslim women, and now we have survey after survey on the main British satellite news channels and in some national newspapers (like the Daily Express) jumping on the bandwagon and using it as a opportunity to denigrate yet another aspect of Islam.

    Hell, as I’ve said on this thread and on the main “purdah” thread on PP many months ago, I don’t agree with the basic concept of “veiling” either, but there is a proper time for everything and there is also a proper way to go about things. I’m not surprised many Muslims seem to feel as though it’s now “open season on Islam”. Politicians, the media, and various national surveys are not going to make the Muslims concerned change their minds about this; if anything, many of them are going to become even more defensive and become further entrenched in their attitudes. It’s also going to add further fuel to the view that there is currently a “War on Islam”, and no doubt the HuT/Al-Gharabaa types will try to use this as further vindication of the anti-West/anti-UK mindset they’re trying to promote.

    Post-9/11, and certainly post-7/7 in the UK, there’s definitely been a sharp increase in focus on Muslims and Islam. Many ordinary Muslims will feel threatened by this, and it would be natural for them to retreat further into their religion if they feel that embracing the more overt identity-related aspects gives them a source of strength, as a way to cope with the external “onslaught”. This is human nature.

    Continuously focusing on the faith and its followers will just exacerbate this, and banning the veil outright (as suggested by the Daily Express poll) will not counteract it; it’ll have the opposite reaction, with many Muslims deliberately breaking what they will believe to be an unfair law and a direct assault on Islam. So you’ll unite both the moderates and the extremists, you’ll play right into the hands of HuT and their ilk, and probably create even more jihadists, both “armchair” and actual.

    I was in one of Britain’s largest and most well-known shopping malls yesterday, and saw a number of hijabed (although not niqabed/burkhad) Muslim women, especially from the younger generation. Given the current focus in the media, I could only imagine how bad it must be for them right now, especially with headlines like “Ban the Veil” splashed across the front pages of national newspapers in WHSmiths a few feet away from them. What a terrible situation.

  221. sunray — on 8th October, 2006 at 5:00 pm  

    “I could only imagine how bad it must be for them right now, especially with headlines like “Ban the Veil” splashed across the front pages of national newspapers in WHSmiths a few feet away from them. What a terrible situation.”

    Its having a reverse action on Muslims.More are now covering up out of spite then for any relgious reasons.

    My neighbours decided to cover her face up fully yeasterday. So I guess i wont be seeing her anymore.

    so when I asked earlier ‘how would you feel if your mother covered her face?’
    its not about how those who knows her feels, its more about how others who wont see her ever again feel.
    Obviously you are all going to see your mothers face but neighbours, friends, school teachers, shop keepers, etc etc .
    Jack is right. Community is breaking up with these cover ups.

  222. Refresh — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:00 pm  

    Sunray - you have given me the best laugh ever on Pickled Politics.

    I haven’t stopped laughing for at least five minutes.

    Once I’ve gotten over your contributions I will add my thoughts on the subject.

  223. Don — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:09 pm  

    Banning the veil would be a major assault on personal liberty and I can’t believe any serious politician would consider it for a moment. If there were such a move I’d find myself in the awkward position of actively opposing a ban on something I find objectionable. Jai and others are quite right to question Straw’s timing, but the response to a polite expression of a reasonable and widely held view has been opportunistic (on both sides) and over the top.

    I am sure there are many reasons women cover up completely, some better than others. Some may feel intimidated and unable to cope in an alien and often impersonal metropolis and so retreat into perceived anonymity, but that is a blind alley. It will never become less alien and less impersonal if you simply decline to engage with the people who share your space. Some may have been pressured by male relatives, or have internalised that pressure. Some may use it as an ostentatious expression of superior piety, which is pathetic. Some may use it as a political statement, which is irresponsible.

    I must admit I have had only two occassions to interact with veiled ladies in the UK. Both were in a teacher-parent context. The first casually removed her veil without any prompting once we were seated and dealing with business (her husband was present and unconcerned), the second (a recent refugee from Afghanistan), retained it despite gentle urgings from her husband. She didn’t speak English, he did the talking. We didn’t discuss it, it wasn’t appropriate, but I sensed that he was hoping she would become less anxious and more willing to trust the strange new place she was in. They were a lovely family and their son, who has extreme autism, quickly became a favourite among staff. Unfortunately they moved out of our area after repeated racial harrassment. So it goes.

    It is not acceptable to tell someone to remove the veil, it is important to make it easy to do so.

  224. Refresh — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:15 pm  

    Firstly the politics.

    John Reid’s speech to the Labour Party conference was delivered to the Whitehouse. He may well have been in Manchester, but he was spouting for the benefit of those that will decide who will become the next Prime Minister.

    Jack Straw is another sly git. Having dragged Condoleeza Rice round his constituency, which thankfully proved a serious embarassment to both guest and host, gets sacked by Bush. Now he needs to prove he’s not accountable to muslims in his constituency, so he can get the Whitehouse back on-side and run for deputy leader.

    The question I have for Straw is, what has he been doing for his constituents if he thought their dress-sense was causing divisions. Did he attempt to address this concern with them?

    After his performance at last week’s Question Time where he was absolutely decimated by both panel and audience over Iraq and Afghanistan, is this the best he can do?

  225. Electro — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:34 pm  

    “No. Sikhs are supposed to be saint-soldiers (emphasis on the “saint”) whose main raison d’etre is spiritual fusion with God and the defence of the entire human race without bias or prejudice, ie. persecuted & oppressed individuals & groups with no distinction given to the latter’s ethnicity, nationality or formal religious affiliation.”

    There is no way that such a statement of purpose can never be reconciled with the aims Islam, Jai. Sikhism promotes equality because it responds to and challenges the violent and chauvinistic characteristics of islam.

    It is a Hindu reaction to the Arabo-Muslim invasions of South Asia. Any decent history text dealing with South Asia will tell you that.

    Islam seeks to erect barriers and to class different individuals and cultures in a hierarchy according to their status as “people of the book” in an effort to arm-twist them into converting.

    Sikhism, however, negates that fundamental islamist “principle” by appealing to ALL human beings as equals….no matter their belief systeme. Consequently, there is No possiblity whatsoever of reconciling the two faiths. That’s why in South Asia it is only India that houses large numbers of Sikhs, whereas in Pakistan the commuinity is almost non-existant. Both can, however, form temporary alliances of conveniance based on a common hatred of *whitey*.

    Yes, bigotry can momentarily bridge the gap!

    It is interesting to note, as well, that geographically “khalistan” abutts, opposes Muslim majority Pakistan; it is positioned as though it were saying “the buck stops here, asshole”.

    And Sunny, fearful of alienating his Muslim readership, or worse yet, risking their fatwa-fired ire, denies the very nature and the history of his own cultural background.

    And anyone who points that out is a “bigot”.

  226. jonz — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    More than ever I hear many women claiming that wearing the veil, burqa or niqab is their own choice. I totally reject this view. Not wearing the veil can create harsh problems for women - if it doesn’t cost them their life, as in Iraq, it can cost them long-term isolation from their community, with those considered “loose women” having less chance of getting a “decent marriage”, and less chance of going out and entering education. When a family sees this as a threat to their “honour”, it can have disastrous consequences. The policies of cultural relativism have claimed the lives of many women in the UK, with their killers not properly brought to justice because “culture” and “religion” are taken into account by the courts. Women’s rights are universal. A criminal must be sentenced according to the law, not on religious and cultural grounds.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/houzan_mahmoud/2006/10/wearing_the_veil_has_never_bee.html

    Joan Smith: The veil is a feminist issue

    Women don’t wear the burqa in Afghanistan because they like it; they wear it because they are afraid of being killed if they don’t. Women haven’t suddenly gone back to wearing the veil in Iraq because they’re pious; they do it because women who refuse have been murdered. I loathe the niqab and the burqa when I see them there. And I can’t pretend I don’t find them equally offensive on my local high street

    http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_m_z/joan_smith/article1819585.ece

  227. Jagdeep — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:46 pm  

    It is a Hindu reaction to the Arabo-Muslim invasions of South Asia. Any decent history text dealing with South Asia will tell you that.

    Guru Nanak, the first Sikh, created his panth as an egalitarian religion that grew as a reaction against certain Hindu creedal shibboleths like the caste system, as much as it did in reaction to the Muslim invasions. The attempt to turn the Sikh religion as nothing more than a militant Muslim hating Hindu off-shoot is a simpletons view of a complex social, historical and spiritual phenomena.

  228. Electro — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:47 pm  

    More of the same crap, but MUCH closer to home. Sikhs so stuff like this all the, right Sunny?

    http://www.france-echos.com/actualite.php?cle=10411

  229. Refresh — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

    Electro, Be aware Guru Nanak is a highly respected figure amongst muslims of the sub-continent.

  230. Jagdeep — on 8th October, 2006 at 6:51 pm  

    Electro, what is your point exactly? The truth is that Sikhs do have nutcases and extremists, just as Hindus do. The nature of that extremism may be different to Islamic extremism, but it still exists. And I don’t know why you’re berating Sunny, he has quite clearly opposed Muslim extremists, but just because he doesnt sign up to your own interpretation, you just want to berate him. You come across as an infant pointing at his own poop. We all know there are issues here, but you’re acting like a rabble rouser, trying to imply that Sunny is somehow in denial. Well he isnt, so stop your hysteria.

  231. Desi Italiana — on 8th October, 2006 at 7:59 pm  

    “How do muslims feel if their mother covered her face forever?
    Just imagine you cant see her anymore!!!!!!!”

    Er….women don’t have their faces covered at home.

  232. razib — on 8th October, 2006 at 9:39 pm  

    Er….women don’t have their faces covered at home.

    yeah.

    my own understanding is that non-relative males over the age of 12 is the issue. since muslims accept cousin marriage ‘non-relative’ can mean cousins, but i don’t think most go that far.

  233. Refresh — on 8th October, 2006 at 9:53 pm  

    Razib

    “‘non-relative’ can mean cousins”

    I am surprised to read that.

  234. raz — on 8th October, 2006 at 9:59 pm  

    “Electro, Be aware Guru Nanak is a highly respected figure amongst muslims of the sub-continent”

    Indeed. Shia Muslims in particular have had close ties with Sikhism.

    BTW, Electro, your attempts at formenting Sikh-Muslim discord are laughable.

    Thousands of Sikh pilgrims come to Pakistan every year to visit their holy places.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5074248.stm

    Sikhs bid teary farewell to Pakistan:

    http://www.panthic.org/news/126/ARTICLE/2567/2006-06-25.html

    “Through their tears, they confessed to having developed an attachment to Pakistan”

    Pakistan army - first Sikh officer:

    http://www.sikhsangat.org/publish/article_971.shtml
    http://img364.imageshack.us/img364/7636/pmsikhcadet8jr.jpg

  235. Refresh — on 8th October, 2006 at 10:25 pm  

    This is how it really is with Straw:

    From the Times:

    Political fancy footwork under Straw’s veil of moderation

    Simon Jenkins

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2088-2393695_1,00.html

    “Yet what happened last week was not that someone objected to Straw’s request. We are told that no woman declined to remove her veil, a minor triumph for his point of view. What happened was that Straw decided to go public. He wrote a column about burqas knowing that it would cause a stir.

    He is a practised politician and we can assume that his motives were not confined to the courtesies of his surgery.”

  236. sunray — on 9th October, 2006 at 8:34 am  

    Desi Italian and Razib
    The point to my posting is to get an opinion on how you would feel if you were only to communicate with your mum by voice and not face to face. I use the mother example because she is the closest to you. Use a friend if that makes it any easier, because the problem is still the same.
    I think comparing not ever seeing them again may perhaps highlight some problems nonmuslims face and perhaps give an understanding of how they feel. But you have to experience that communication.

    I have experienced this communication breakdown. In the beginning its all good and noone is the wiser, but slowly I noted the relationship got distanced till there was no communication. The same thing happened to women I used to talk to at my childs school. The communications just broke down gradually over the months as I could no longer recognise who they were. Before even from a distance I would wave to them ‘hello’ and smile. In return I would get a wave and smile back. But now I cant see any reaction what so ever, no smile, nothing.

    None of the above comment is anything to with rights or offense or intolerance, race, hate etc etc. Its a simple example of what has happened and will happen to others as time goes on.

  237. Galloise Blonde — on 9th October, 2006 at 9:13 am  

    Phase 2 Suspect in terror hunt used veil to evade arrest, according to the Times.

  238. Kulvinder — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:17 am  

    The point to my posting is to get an opinion on how you would feel if you were only to communicate with your mum by voice and not face to face.

    Any loss in sight wouldn’t affect my feelings for my mother.

  239. Refresh — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:32 am  

    sunray, as with most things to do with muslims it is so easy to prey on the ignorant thus fuelling resentment.

    Wearing of the veil does not happen within the confines of the family home. So the idea a child may not see the mother’s face becomes a Monty Python sketch in my mind - if you extend your logic.

    Razib’s point really is trying to ascertain how wide a net the term ‘relatives’ cast. In eastern and Asian families the extended family is usually pretty big.

  240. jamal — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:37 am  

    Muslim women have the choice as to whether they wear a veil and it is not Jack Straw’s position or place to demand that veils be removed in his presence. Mr Straw is a politician and should therefore keep his personal views to himself and cease from attempting to inject his secularist ideas into political debate and government policy. The calls to remove him from his position must be followed if New Labour is to uphold its supposed commitment to multiculturalism, equality and human rights. I assume that Mr Straw is required to follow an anti-discriminatory policy as well as the recent legislation outlawing religious discrimination in the workplace. Mr Straw has offended the sentiments of the Muslim community with his statements that ignore the rights of Muslim women to wear a veil, and has effectively discriminated against Muslim women by restricting them direct access to his political consultation/representation based upon their choice of religious practice/expression. Let’s not forget that when Ken Livingstone offended the sentiments of the Jewish community by likening a journalist to a “concentration camp guard”, he was suspended. Or is it only Jews that receive recompense when they are offended?

  241. sonia — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:55 am  

    obviously women have the choice and should carry on doing so.

    that aside - but there’s an element of the usual if its an ‘outsider’ saying something we’re going to do the whole cultural outrage thing. Which is hardly fair. Plenty of muslims openly discuss how they find the full on veil - and some go as far as to say they find it disturbing and wish women wouldn’t wear it. some say yeah sure its up to the women but admit it has a negative impact on them. expressing one’s reaction is different to then saying - so that means they have to stop. {after all the reason some men hand out for hijab-wearing is based on the {alleged} reaction they have to women dressed otherwise. clearly at some level having to take other people’s opinions into account over your own isn’t going to be much good.}

    anyway if anyone wants to get an idea of what different muslims think about the niqab /full veil think check out mezba’s comments:

    http://mezba.blogspot.com/2006/10/jack-straws-comments-on-veil.html

  242. Chairwoman — on 9th October, 2006 at 11:27 am  

    Jamal - As a Jewish woman, let me say that you have offended me, as from time to time other people have on this site. I wasn’t aware that this entitled me, and my co-religionists, to compensation. Nobody else I know was aware of this either. As you appear to be such an expert on what we are entitled to, I would be delighted if you could furnish me with the details.

  243. Jagdeep — on 9th October, 2006 at 11:32 am  

    Chairwoman, you are a Jew, therefore you are guilty of something in every argument or issue that the likes of Jamal consider.

  244. Jai — on 9th October, 2006 at 11:38 am  

    Electro,

    =>”It is a Hindu reaction to the Arabo-Muslim invasions of South Asia. Any decent history text dealing with South Asia will tell you that.”

    This debate is wildly off-topic so I will keep this brief. For the record, though, I know my South Asian history very well, especially the Mughal period, as plenty of people here on PP and Sepia Mutiny would confirm.

    1. You need to read about exactly how Sikhism developed. You also need to read the contents of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. You won’t understand what the rest of us here are trying to explain to you unless and until you familiarise yourself with both of these subjects. Details of Sikh history and biographies of the Gurus are available on Sikhnet and Sikhs.org. Both also have freely-available online English translations of the SGGS, which anyone can read.

    2. Guru Nanak’s closest lifelong friend was a Muslim, called Bhai Mardana.

    3. The SGGS includes numerous writings by Sufi saints.

    4. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar was laid by a Sufi saint called Mian Mir.

    5. Guru Arjan assisted Prince Khusrau, Jahangir’s son, when the prince rebelled against his father. There was no prejudice against him being a Muslim.

    6. Guru Gobind Singh’s army included Muslims, especially Pathan generals. There are instances of Mughal generals defecting to join the Khalsa in the middle of battles. The famous saint Baba Bulleh Shah and large numbers of his relatives also joined Guru Gobind Singh in his struggles against the Mughals.

    7. Guru Gobind Singh was assisted by Muslims when he had been cut off from his followers and was being hunted by Mughal forces.

    8. Guru Gobind Singh gave military assistance to the future Emperor Bahadur Shah during the battle for succession after Aurangzeb’s death.

    9. There are indeed certain theological and moral principles in orthodox Islam which Sikhism openly contradicts and disapproves of; however, the same applies to some aspects of Hinduism, and indeed many “generic” religious/theological attitudes and beliefs which Sikhism states are misguided. The point is that it is these practices which are opposed, not the religions in their entirety and not necessarily their adherents either.

    10. The various points Jagdeep has made in this thread are also extremely relevant and I suggest you consider them carefully.

  245. j0nz — on 9th October, 2006 at 1:25 pm  

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2395178,00.html

    Suspect in terror hunt used veil to evade arrest

    A MALE suspect in a major anti-terrorist investigation in Britain escaped capture by allegedly disguising himself as a Muslim woman dressed in a burka, The Times can reveal.

    The man, who was wanted in connection with serious terrorist offences, evaded arrest for several days as police searched for him across the country.

    The fact that a fugitive remained at large after disguising himself in an Islamic dress which covered his face will further fuel the debate sparked by Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons, about the wearing of the veil.

    We must not make the veil a taboo subject.

  246. j0nz — on 9th October, 2006 at 1:26 pm  

    Ah shoot, Galloise Blonde got there first

  247. Kismet Hardy — on 9th October, 2006 at 1:35 pm  

    Dunno if anyone’s already said this but the one thing I haven’t heard anyone point out yet is:

    Some women like being left alone.

    If wearing a veil gives them the confidence to walk these mean streets without the threat of unwarranted attention, maybe courting a bit of respect or even fear along the way, good on her.

    My view on the whole thing is a bit like buying Clarins for a girl. I’ll look at a £45 tube of anti-wrinkle cream and think: this doesn’t work, you’re only doing this because men have given you this idea that wrinkles are unattractive

    But I’ll shut up when she says: No. They do work. I don’t do it for men, I do it for myself.

    Some women spend an obnoxious amount on looking good for men, some do it because it makes them feel better about themselves

    Same thing applies to veils, except it’s cheaper

  248. Chairwoman — on 9th October, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

    You are indeed a gem - a straight man who knows Clarins!

  249. Kismet Hardy — on 9th October, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    I prefer Benefit myself. Their foundation playsticks are just something else. Although for blusher, it simply has to be clinique sunset glow

  250. sonia — on 9th October, 2006 at 2:02 pm  

    heh heh kismet good points! there are a lot of things mixed up in this adoption of the veil thing. whilst there’s definitely on the one hand societal/male pressure re: covering up and ‘modesty’ there are other things. what the mullahs no doubt would call ‘unislamic’ heh heh. for instance, in bangladesh, some women wear the full veil when they want to meet their boyfriends as it’s a brilliant disguise. you won’t have to worry about uncle x y and z seeing you and reporting back to the parents. brilliant use of ontological judo in my humble opinion - heh heh. i was reading this book recently and it had an excerpt of comments made by a victorian british lady visiting turkey, and she was a bit of a feminist and thought it was brilliant that the veiled up ladies could go off to meet their lovers without their husbands suspecting anything even if they walked past him in the road. :-)

    of course if you’re stuck in a repressed society you’ll find tricks to get past it. a so-called symbol of modesty’s a good disguise.

  251. Chris Stiles — on 9th October, 2006 at 2:02 pm  

    Jamal -


    Muslim women have the choice as to whether they wear a veil and it is not Jack Straw’s position or place to demand that veils be removed in his presence.

    You are foaming - it was phrased in terms of a request.

  252. Desi Italiana — on 9th October, 2006 at 7:16 pm  

    Kismet:

    “Some women like being left alone. ”

    Amen to that. See, Kismet, this is why I love you. I have always thought this. I had even entertained the idea of wearing one in Italy, where everyone stares at your breasts and behind if you’re a foreigner. It is demeaning to be stared in such a way.

    It’s nice to be left alone from the male gaze. And from my experience, the male gaze is NOT something exclusive to “Muslim men.” Men everywhere pretty much check you out, especially if you stand out in some way, ie you’re a foreigner or ethnically different.

    Sonia:

    “for instance, in bangladesh, some women wear the full veil when they want to meet their boyfriends as it’s a brilliant disguise. you won’t have to worry about uncle x y and z seeing you and reporting back to the parents. ”

    My Yemenite friends informed me that when they used to dress in the full hijab when they went to the bazaar, there were ways to enact the mating dance: coded body language. If a woman walked a certain way, a man would pick up on this; when they exchanged money after the woman bought something, the pressure or touching of the hands a certain way conveyed interest/rejection. And, when someone was having “illicit” relations with someone, just don your hijab, and no one would know!

  253. Desi Italiana — on 9th October, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

    BTW:

    1. I’m not sure what people here mean when they say “veil”- do they mean the full on hijab which covers your face as well? Or just your hair?

    2. That said, veiling (hair, not entire face) is not exclusive to Muslim women, nor the Middle East. Women in Italy have done it, and women in Sardegna and Sicily still do (called “foulard”).

    And I have lived with a Punjabi Sikh family and I grew up with a lot of Sikhs. Aside from attendence at the gurdwaara (where both men and women must cover their hair), the women of the older generation (grandmothers) in these Punjabi families cover their hair. Some of their husbands wear a pugdi, some don’t, but the women continue to cover their hair.

    Widows in India cover their hair.

    There are a couple of Gujarati Hindu mandhirs in the US that I’ve been too where women (not the men) must cover their hair. And, the men and women sit seperately, too.

  254. sunray — on 9th October, 2006 at 9:39 pm  

    Refresh you said
    “as with most things to do with muslims it is so easy to prey on the ignorant thus fuelling resentment.”

    First of all I bought this topic up a few years before jack made his speech so I know where hes coming from and its not a muslim bashing comment; as many would love to make out.

    “Wearing of the veil does not happen within the confines of the family home.”

    Refresh. You did not read my comments on post 221 properly and neither did Raziba.
    I did say “Obviously you are all going to see your mothers face but neighbours, friends, school teachers, shop keepers, etc etc” are not.
    There is a reason for my wanting everyone to pretend they cant see their mothers face ever again. Imagine not seeing a friend you grew up with ever again. You can only hear her voice!
    I have lost one of my neighbours because of this very reason. She hardly comes out of her home and when she does no one recognises her. Well how could they. Had this neighbour not covered up then today I would still be talking to her etc. also see 236 above.

    There is a very basic concept to grasp here and I haven’t got time to explain.
    Until you experience what I have you wont know any different.
    May be in years to come some of you will understand it.

  255. g — on 9th October, 2006 at 9:50 pm  

    sunray weren’t you the one crying about indian morals when ER showed an asian girl marrying a black bloke? troll

  256. sunray — on 9th October, 2006 at 9:52 pm  

    ive never seen ER in my life.
    I was the one who advertised it.
    lol

    what are you upset about anyway.

  257. Desi Italiana — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

    Sunray:

    “There is a very basic concept to grasp here and I haven’t got time to explain.
    Until you experience what I have you wont know any different.
    May be in years to come some of you will understand it.”

    I think that perhaps you haven’t articulated yourself well. Correct me if I am wrong, but what you mean to say is that you find a specific way of dressing bothersome….no? And this specific garment has implications for the way you individually interact with someone, ie communicate. Which brings me to the next point. The “basic concept” that you are talking about is simply: communication. But I would modify that and say that you are talking about a STYLE of communication. For you it’s important to see the face, and associate that with an acquaintance, friend, whatever.

    However, I do think that communication styles differ from locality to locality (see # 252)

    “its not a muslim bashing comment; as many would love to make out.”

    I don’t think your comment is “Muslim bashing,” but it can be misinterpreted because you continuously refer to “Muslims” and how “non Muslims” feel. Not all Muslims wear a burqa; there are some who do. Maybe if you specified the garment, that would be helpful.

    ” The point to my posting is to get an opinion on how you would feel if you were only to communicate with your mum by voice and not face to face. I use the mother example because she is the closest to you. Use a friend if that makes it any easier, because the problem is still the same.
    I think comparing not ever seeing them again may perhaps highlight some problems nonmuslims face and perhaps give an understanding of how they feel. But you have to experience that communication.”

    I think Refresh was referring to what I myself thought when I read your post: for women who do wear the burqa, their children and family members (”family” is extensive, as Razib’s comment points out) see them without it at home. That said, for your analogy to work, we would have to assume that you share with others the same intimacy and familiarity that you have with your mother.

  258. Refresh — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:14 pm  

    Sunray - I still cannot get over the image it conjured for me. I won’t apologise for misreading your comments - as it gave me quite a laugh.

    Hilarious.

    Yes I agree on the other point, and I did understand what you meant. That is a sadness, but it needn’t be. Accept your neighbours choice, neither of you will have changed.

    As for women covering themselves in general, I did post a link to the debate a while back which showed that it was something that came out of many cultures. Desi Italiana touches on this above.

    By the way I don’t see you as a troll. I just found you funny.

    “Jack is right. Community is breaking up with these cover ups.”

    An innocent. Which is nice.

    Desi Italiana, always good to read your comments. I see you as a true progressive, rare on these blogs.

  259. sunray — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:20 pm  

    If you have experienced loosing friends or neighbours because they wore a veil then youd know what I was talking about.

    “but it can be misinterpreted”
    what in Gods name cant be misinterpreted these days.

  260. Desi Italiana — on 9th October, 2006 at 10:44 pm  

    Sunray:

    ““but it can be misinterpreted”
    what in Gods name cant be misinterpreted these days.”

    Dude, I’m trying to help you out here by telling you that I get what you are saying but you are not being specific enough and putting a name to the concepts that you are referring to- like “communication”, a specific garment called “burqa” ,etc. Like I said, the way you are articulating your points can be misinterpreted because you keep framing the issue as “Muslim” vs. “non Muslims.” And as I mentioned, not all Muslims wear a burqa; the majority of Muslim women on this globe do not wear burqas. (FYI, just to throw in a random fact, there are Muslim MEN who completely cover their faces as well (ie the Tuareg men)). When you say “Muslims,” it invokes a monolithic image of burqa clad women. This is hardly accurate.

    I’m telling you that if you specify clearly what you want to say, it helps: there are women who are your neighbors and friends that have chosen to wear the burqa. It’s hard for you to communicate with them, or you feel that you are not communicating at all because the Great Burqa has become a wall between you two.

    “If you have experienced loosing friends or neighbours because they wore a veil then youd know what I was talking about.”

    Maybe, this was their way of not having to talk to someone they don’t want to anymore ;) If I could steer clear of people I don’t really want to talk to anymore by discouraging ongoing communication due to wearing a burqa, I’d do it :)

  261. Refresh — on 10th October, 2006 at 1:19 am  

    I have a friend who spent quite a long period in the middle east doing up a palace. His abiding regret was, to use his phrase, he ‘never saw any female flesh’ the few months he was there.

    I guess it raises the question as to who cares about baring of flesh. The observer or the observed.

    Who do we dress for? Ourselves or others (strangers often)?

    This debate also reminds me of an ex-brother-in-law who said he couldn’t trust anyone who didn’t drink.

    And going further back, training myself to look people in the eye. Having been brought up to avoid staring at girls and not to stare into the eyes of adults.

    The first to show respect for womankind and the second to show deference to older people.

    By doing both these things - in England the first could be misunderstood as just having a dislike of woman and the second as just looking guilty or subservient.

    As for not drinking - well how can you participate in our society without propping up the bar?

  262. Desi Italiana — on 10th October, 2006 at 1:22 am  

    Refresh # 258-

    Thanks :)

  263. Desi Italiana — on 10th October, 2006 at 1:30 am  

    “I guess it raises the question as to who cares about baring of flesh. The observer or the observed.”

    Related thought-

    Women may choose to cover up because they feel comfortable and are used to their dress. And perhaps they do not want to be captured by the male gaze.

    For example, a daughter- in- law straight from Punjab who came to the US recently feels very uncomfortable when her American Punjabi mother-in- law tries to “Americanize” her, ie making her wear snug and fitted paints and shirts. The daughter -in- law really really feels uncomfortable because, in her words, she feels “naked”. She prefers the salwaar kameez that she has worn all her life- roomy and baggy, whereby her contours aren’t highlighted and emphasized. This is what she has worn all her life,and she feels uncomfortable attracting attention to parts that she would prefer otherwise.

    Another related thought- in regions where both men and women cover up- such as the Tuareg people and bedouins- they do it for climatic reasons. Covering yourself in head to toe protects the skin from sun, wind, and sand exposure. Have you ever trekked through the desert when there are whirling sand storms? You’d wear a burqa-esque garment too!

  264. Jai — on 10th October, 2006 at 11:31 am  

    Desi Italiana,

    =>”Aside from attendence at the gurdwaara (where both men and women must cover their hair), the women of the older generation (grandmothers) in these Punjabi families cover their hair. Some of their husbands wear a pugdi, some don’t, but the women continue to cover their hair.”

    No no no no no !

    With all due respect, you’ve misunderstood this. They’re not covering their hair (either in the gurdwara or outside it), they’re covering their heads.

    The latter is done within a gurdwara as a sign of respect towards God and as recognition of being inside a holy place.

    Now, since Sikhism believes that God is everywhere and the entire universe is fundamentally divine in its essence, this is one of the reasons (there are others) why strictly observant Sikhs — both male and female — are supposed to cover their heads everywhere. Men do this with a turban, women usually use a dupatta (although very strictly-practicing female Sikhs sometimes wear a turban too).

    It’s not about covering their hair due to the latter being regarded as “sexually provocative and immodest” — the rationale within Sikhism is not the same as that within Islam.

  265. Desi Italiana — on 10th October, 2006 at 7:25 pm  

    Jai:

    “No no no no no !

    With all due respect, you’ve misunderstood this. They’re not covering their hair (either in the gurdwara or outside it), they’re covering their heads.”

    Calm down, yaar….ok, so they cover their “heads” rather than “hair.” Wrong semantics, my bad.

    “It’s not about covering their hair due to the latter being regarded as “sexually provocative and immodest” — the rationale within Sikhism is not the same as that within Islam. ”

    I never said this. I simply said that covering heads (NOTE, I said “heads,” not “hair”) is not exclusive to the Middle East and Muslims. My point was to draw attention to the fact that it is a practice that supercedes both of the above region and religion. I didn’t go into the rationale as to why this practice occurs.

    Sheesh, no one on PP can ever say anything about Sikhs or Sikhism without…

    ;)

  266. soru — on 10th October, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

    ‘Dude, I’m trying to help you out here by telling you that I get what you are saying but you are not being specific enough and putting a name to the concepts that you are referring to– like “communication”, a specific garment called “burqa” ,etc’

    A ‘veil’, in english (Arabic niqab, more or less) is a garment that specifically covers the face, it is not in any way ambiguous, or a possible reference to a burqa or hijab.

    Cool wiki fact of the day:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil

    Among the Tuareg of West Africa, women do not traditionally wear the veil, while men do. The men’s facial covering originates from the belief that such action wards off evil spirits, but most probably relates to protection against the harsh desert sands as well; in any event, it is a firmly established tradition. Men begin wearing a veil at age 25 which conceals their entire face excluding their eyes. This veil is never removed, even in front of family members.

  267. El Cid — on 10th October, 2006 at 9:54 pm  

    pathetic

  268. sonia — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:28 pm  

    i’m so fed up with hearing this constant bogey word community cohesion. how can one person be ‘tasked’ with gluing up a ‘community’. Ha ha it’s so patently ridiculous.

  269. PFM — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:28 pm  

    is asking women to remove their veils to promote integration similar to asking scantily clad women to cover up as they will be less likely to be raped?

    its two assumptions based on an ignorant view.

    you know what deep down really hurts the english is that the majority of women who wear the veil are english converts. blonde haired blue eyed women, women born and bred here. women who have gone from mini skirts to covering thelmselves head to toe. choosing something else over ‘british’ culture.

    women who wear the veil integrate alot, they work, they go out in the community. some women dont, they are mainly from the indian sub continent and cant speak english anyway. how about some english classes for a start?

    hmm so many women who wear the veil actually speak english, work, study. what jack straw finds difficult is that he cannot comprehend that whats more important is, what is being said and not wether the person saying it is wearing a veil or a mini skirt. how much are we obsessed by the way a person looks and judging a person on how they look. by wearing a veil this removes this judgement and its something that peopl arent comfortable with.

    on a society based around looks and judgement based on those looks without the person even speaking, the veil removes the option of us judging and to be honest its something that most people can not handle.

    but personally i think the hijab and jilbab are more than enough.

    btw at the end of the day how a woman dresses is surely her own perogative.

  270. sonia — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:31 pm  

    interesting shiraz maher - only team members are allowed to post comments - ha why bother in that case!

  271. sonia — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:44 pm  

    oh phooey generally dress codes in all societies are about looks and judgement and conformity to some extent or the other. as if asians/muslims don’t go around judging each other on what they’re wearing! such rubbish i never heard - what kind of denial is that?! As if. And someone pointed out - judgement goes all ways - a lot of women who wear the hijab ( and i fully support their right to do so) express their opinion to their ’sisters’ on how they ought to be doing the same. wearing the hijab doesn’t take away judgement necessarily- you’re talking a different kind of judgement. not aesthetic judgement - but perhaps getting into some kind of moral territory. a lot of ‘elders’ will judge the ‘kind of girl’ you are based on whether or not you’re wearing a hijab - so it’s hardly value free. and we’ve heard how some people want to wear it to signal their identity or difference. there’s a lot of peer pressure out there but ultimately it’s an individuals’ right to decide what the heck they wanna wear. and it ain’t only English people who have ‘issues’ about the niqab - a lot of other people do as well - all sorts of people have all sorts of issues about what others wear - doesn’t mean people have to act on it. it gives me the creeps personally - but it’s none of my business, im sure some of my outfits give others the creeps too. especially my mismatched socks - boy you should hear the comments..

  272. ZinZin — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:53 pm  

    Shiraz i fear that you give Straw and Woolas too much credit. Your criticisms are based on the actions of one Knobhead in Liverpool and a debate over a cloth that was bound to happen at some point.

    For starting a debate Straw is criticised. The reaction of the said Knobhead is irrelevant as Straw didn’t tell him to do it. His reaction is his responsibility not Straws.

    However it is nice to see you blame Straw for someone elses actions. Muslim fundis and their apologists blame the murders and other crimes committed in the name of being offended onto the individual giving the initial offence.

  273. PFM — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:54 pm  

    was your post directed at me sonia?

    theres nothing wrong with women who wear hijab expressing their opinions of wanting their sisters to wear the hijab. wether they do or not is their own decision. which elders are you talking about? the same ones who chased white women, drank alcohol and the women who sit around watching tv and gossipping? lol.

    the issue is this, most british people find the idea of not being able to make a judgement on a person purely by seeing their face uncomfortable. this is brought about culture, the culture of judging a person through their appearance. in other words prejudice. they are not able to make that decision.

    just as the muslim woman is arguing to wear the veil. the british people are asking to be allowed to make that judgement on the way a person looks.

    and btw who are the non-english who have issues with the hijab? indian (hindus/sikhs?)

  274. sonia — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:55 pm  

    anyways an anecdote - my best friend in school N wore a hijab. when i went to university up in sheffield she went to kings. we went to some nightclub together once and boy was she surrounded by all these funny men and the comments she got - oh my god a hijabi in a club! can i have your no. and all sorts of stuff…
    then when she got married back in karachi -all the aunties and rellies were busy pressuring her to take off her hijab for her wedding day. ’show your lovely hair na’ good ol N refused to give in to the pressure - and apparently there was a lot of it…

  275. PFM — on 10th October, 2006 at 10:55 pm  

    i agree with zinzin to some extent there, however you have to ask if jack straw hadnt made the comments he would have prob just swore under his breath as opposed to rugby tackling the poor auntie.

  276. sonia — on 10th October, 2006 at 11:14 pm  

    everyone makes a judgement on how others look - can’t see why you’re singling out ‘British people’ . its another thing to act on those judgements. yeah - that bit was definitely directed at you PFM . - the rest - well they could be ‘directed’ at anyone, it’s a discussion forum after all- so directed to the ether i guess.

    who’s got issues with the ‘niqab’ - the full veil thing is what we’re talking - well some people do - why shouldn’t some muslims have issues with it? goodnes ims sure lots of different individuals have different opinions. check out the link i pasted in 241.

  277. Refresh — on 11th October, 2006 at 1:13 am  

    This video is fascinating in its own right - but look out for the veiled home-grown Americans in Texas.

    http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-9184353144432289069&q=islam

  278. Rowshan — on 11th October, 2006 at 1:57 am  

    i don’t understand the fuss - got bgger things to be taxed about, don’t we all? Suddenly we veiled women are responsible for a lack of integration in this country - when did we assume so much power?

  279. speedy — on 13th October, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2402681,00.html

    veil teacher suspended

  280. genghis — on 14th October, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

    Please can we have wimmin with low cut tops, high heels, thongs and miniskirts.

    Just that im a pervert and i would really appreciate it if wimmin were not allowed to wear veils, its spoils all my fun!

  281. raz — on 14th October, 2006 at 7:58 pm  

    Racist attacks surge in the last month:

    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article1870842.ece

    Disgraceful.

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