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  • The veil and Labour politics

    by Sunny
    21st October, 2006 at 3:15 am    

    In today’s Daily Mail Peter Oborne has written a very interesting article that does well to capture the events of the past few weeks and related issues. Yes I know, it’s the Daily Mail. But I find the analysis quite compelling and worth examining. After all it is the pulse of Middle England.

    I’ve highlighted the main points in red. My brief comments are below them.

    Until only a few months ago, mainstream British politicians were extremely cautious about articulating the fears and resentments felt by many ordinary people on the subject of mass immigration.

    “This self-restraint has now vanished. Practically every day for the past two weeks, another minister has insulted the customs, habits or religious beliefs of Britain’s Muslim minority.

    The second part is true but I find the conflation with mass-immigration quite silly. The only mass-immigration currently into Britain is of white Eastern-European men not Muslim women wearing niqabs.

    It seems every day now brings forth news of an outrage allegedly perpetrated somewhere by a Muslim. Many of the stories… may well turn out to be fabrications.

    “But cumulatively this litany of condemnation has turned into an anti-Islamic crusade. I am a practising member of the Church of England and if we had come under the same wave of condemnation for our practices and traditions I would by now be affronted beyond belief. If I were Jewish, with the experience of the 20th century to look back on, and came under the same weight of hostility I would be terrified.

    Needless to say I agree. I wonder what Melanie Phillips will say now the Daily Mail has green-lighted the same concerns, given she tried to mock India Knight last week for saying the same.

    There is a whiff of the lynch mob about the wave of attacks over the past fortnight, and it is no surprise to learn that the new national mood sparked by Jack Straw and sanctioned by Tony Blair has indeed led to a number of assaults on British mosques, including one firebombing. There have also been reports of a sharp rise of physical assaults on Muslims.

    Well said.

    … but I think three main factors lie behind Labour’s campaign against Islam. The first is a genuine belief that it is extremely difficult to reconcile Muslim fundamentalism with full membership of British society.

    “My guess is that Labour strategists have now calculated that the Muslim coalition of voters, which was so stalwartly behind the party in 1997 and 2001, is now lost for ever as a result of the Iraq War. Rather than try to win them back, Labour has cut its losses, and decided instead to stir up racial tension as a means of appealing directly to the white working-class vote.”

    “…Labour has now moved directly into the ground vacated by the Conservatives, only with far greater assurance. It is now engaging with issues that Michael Howard would never have dared even to mention.

    His analysis of Labour is bang on. Any delusion that the Labour party is any less willing to use the race or religious card to demonise minority groups for votes should be dispelled. It was quite obvious during the Local Elections anyway, when they did very little to challenge the BNP.

    So far the Conservative response has been impressive. To his credit, David Cameron has braved internal criticism by refusing to join in some kind of bidding war with Labour.

    Agreed. If Muslim groups were clever they would abandon Labour and switch support to the Conservatives, which should be their natural home anyway. That may also get Cameron willing to fight their cause.

    The other fact is that in a stunning role-reversal to the 1997/2001/2005 elections, David Cameron is playing the optimist card while Labour is forced to pander to people’s prejudices in order to win votes. And we know how that turned out in the past. People may initially fall for Labour’s scaremongering but I believe they’ll ultimately go for Cameron’s optimism.

    Now Tony Blair has allowed a campaign that is bound to undermine moderate Muslims and encourage extremism, whether from white supremacist parties like the BNP or within Islam itself.

    It is quite the nastiest and most irresponsible politics I have seen from a mainstream political party in my life, and we will all pay a horrible price for such cynical opportunism.

    You can say that again. It does feel odd applauding a Daily Mail editorial and arguing that the Conservatives may be our new friends, but from where I’m sitting it makes sense.

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    1. Labour Politics and the Veil « Not Saussure

      [...] Via Pickled Politics, with a very good commentary by Sunny, I discover that,  God help us, there’s an article by Peter Oborne in The Daily Mail  I pretty much agree with.   Now I know how Calupurnia felt. [...]

    1. Ismaeel — on 21st October, 2006 at 6:06 am  

      Let me get this straight Sunny old chap, you think we should support David “I’m going to break up Muslim Ghettos” Cameron and his henchman David “The nikab issue was bomb waiting to detonate” Davis rather than Tony “God will let me off on judgement day for killing millions” Blair and his cronies.

      A pox on both their houses i say.

    2. Kulvinder — on 21st October, 2006 at 6:08 am  

      Id agree its politics and little else, as he says they’ve lost the ‘muslim vote’ as well as most of what they consider to be the left. They’re repositioning themselves to take the more hardline voters.

      In all honesty i can just about imagine myself voting tory (i know!) lib dem at the very least but if the tories took a more classically libertarian and progressive approach to their policies i would vote for them. There is a general feeling of creeping statism and the ‘nanny state’ under new labour. If the conservatives pledged to scrap id cards, destroy DNA records kept by the police after a finite period of time - max 10 years(or require all police and mps to give their samples!) and basically started being the voice of reason id vote for them.

      The constant revolving of policies around education/nhs/crime/terrorism has left be drained. In all honesty hearing about how the nhs and the education system is going to be reformed (what again!) or how we’ll take ever increasinly draconian actions on the criminals just doesn’t turn me on.

      I don’t want to hear about how many new police officers are needed; recruiting ever increasing numbers of police (or pcsos) is by definition going towards a police state.

      I want the consevatives to be progressive (as they initially were under thatcher). Take the high brow appproach of saying the relgious hatred bill was wrong but as is any law against ‘glorification of terrorism’. I’d even say attack the new law against ‘violent pornography’.

      Most people; the vast majority look for freedom. The Conservatives may lose their hardright supporters but if they take a more intellectual and libertarian line, if they present themselves as reducing government involvement in society and freeing us from the state they will win.

    3. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 21st October, 2006 at 9:10 am  

      Is this the same Daily Mail that today includes the story “Mosque links Tube bomber and teacher in veil storm”, yesterday ran the story with the headline, “Veil-row teacher is defeated in ‘victory for commonsense’” The day before that ran the non-story, “The school that bans Christian rings but lets Sikh pupils wear religious bracelets” etc etc.?

      Mr Oborne may be the pulse of Middle England, and sound almost human, but the surrounding body is that of a flesh eating Zombie.



    4. El Cid — on 21st October, 2006 at 9:30 am  

      Some of the analysis is good. The loss of the moslem vote, the appeal to the rest of the country — yeah I buy that, except it also appeals to all non-moslem immigrant groups too (and don’t you forget it). But that article was also written from the perspective of a self-serving agenda. And I’m sure you know it. (Good luck if you wanna be a Tory MP. It’s not such a bad thing, even if I won’t be voting for you).
      I don’t believe Islam in general has been under attack, I really don’t. You and others may disagree. Fair enough.
      But I do think that a threshold has been crossed in recent months in the wake of that letter by Labour MPs with its whiff of impertinent blackmail and those protests against the Pope.
      Of course, it had been building since those Danish cartoon protests, and before then since 7/7, but what has happened lately is that a large chunk of Brits (of the non-BNP/Tory voting, multicoloured kind) have been roused into noisy rebellion, without concern for the consequences, in the full knowledge that they are right-minded, world-loving and of sound mind.
      The emperor’s coat is a sham! The niqab and burkha are anti-social garments that have no place in modern society. I defend your right to wear them, as I would a teenager’s right to shove a bolt through his eyebrow, but don’t dare to tell me that by wearing it you have a right to my respect. You haven’t, so fuck off. You wanna job, you wanna converse with me, you wanna share the love with your fellow human beings — take the fucking thing off, show me your face, and then I’ll talk to you. If your husband won’t let you, make it known and we’ll protect you.
      From what I’ve heard and learnt, there’s nothing in the Koran that says you gotta cover your face, so let’s break the link between Islam and burkhas — there ain’t one. You wanna look odd like dem Hassidics with the curly hair and the shoe-shine hats? Cool — but at least I can talk to them, if the chance arose. I can see what they are thinking at any one time. I can’t when it comes to the tent-wearing mingers.
      Has this polarised society even further? Yeah, I guess it has — but it was happening anyway. If moslem commentators stop playing the victim card, they will see that — actually — they don’t like the burkha either. People like me, people like many of my colleagues at work, broadsheet reading people who have visted moslem countries, studied moslem history, even gone to mosque open days and have moslem friends, they are not BNP supporters and never will be. Be careful about making assumptions about the “white working class”. Generalisations are usually as wrong as they are right.

    5. Refresh — on 21st October, 2006 at 9:32 am  

      Oh Well - we need a strategy. Not how to get out but to make sure no one gets left behind.

      Oh, and how not to be carpet bombed when we get there - wherever that is.

    6. Katy — on 21st October, 2006 at 10:59 am  

      I’m wtih El Cid. And so, as far as I can work out, are a lot of Muslims. I listened to a representative of the MCB discussing the tribunal’s decision on the teacher who wanted to wear the veil on Radio 4 the day before yesterday. She said that the veil was not an Islamic requirement, but was supposed to protect women from unwanted attention from men, and she said that the MCB thought that the teacher should think very carefully about whether or not she needed that sort of protection, especially when teaching children in a classroom.

      She also said that, given that the veil is not a religious requirement, the teacher ought to think very carefully about her responsibility to the Muslim community and what taking the case to an appeal might accomplish for her or for the Muslim community.

      I wish I could remember the name of the MCB representative because she was so lovely and sensible and a real change from the frothing loons that you normally hear from on either side of the debate.

    7. Isaa — on 21st October, 2006 at 11:50 am  


      The speaker from the MCB was Dr Reefat Drabu. The MCB, as usual, missed an opportunity by not promoting her to the leadership position recently and going with Abdul Bari instead. She would have been the ideal spokesperson for the Muslim community at this delicate time. She was also correct in her analysis. Many Muslim scholars (including some fundamentalists like Hussan al-Turabi) have stated that the main purpose of a woman’s dress as sanctioned by the Qur’an is to not draw attention to her and present herself in a modest manner. They have also argued that for women living in the west, trousers, loose shirt and hijab (headscarf) is more Islamic than a Niqaab (veil) as the latter drew more attention to the women.

      There are also dress regulations for men. For example men are prohibited from wearing silk and gold but women are allowed. During the time of the prophet there was a trend amongst some rich men to wear long silk gowns that dragged along the floor and the prophet warned his companions: do not be amongst those who dress with conceit. However, one of his close companions wore silk because he had a skin condition (scabies) and the prophet never said anything. As you can see, Islamic law is very flexible, however, unfortunately most of these knuckleheads like Aisha Azmi are not intellectual enough to understand the intricacies of Shariah and the Imams at their local Mosque, who’s job it should be to make them understand are probably from a village in India/Pakistan and have no idea of life outside their closed communities.

    8. Sahil — on 21st October, 2006 at 11:58 am  

      This analysis of the mail is very good (something I thought I wouldn’t say). The systematic negative caricatures being exploited the last few weeks is just crazy. I think Jonathan Freedland had written an article last week as how this was getting totally out of control. When you have freedom of speech, you can still easily dehumanise groups of people without ever impinging on religious hatred laws etc. This is where some self-responsibility has to kick in, but frankly no one cares as long as circulation increases (those free DVD ideas haven’t worked). And then people just bang on about freedom of speech and how they have the right to say anything they want without regard as to the irrational ‘perception’ being created in the UK.

      Sunny your point on Bristish ‘Asian’ being naturally tory territory is spot on. The only this voter segment has been away from the tories is because the tories banging on about ‘British values’ and generally being quite cycnical about immigration. I know that many of my cousins in the States also voted republican until they realised that BUsh was just totally out of control. Tax cuts will always be a primary focus for those who are well off, over-riding most other public policy ideas.

      El Cid, Katy: I agree the Niqab and Burka have little to do with Islam. The way I understood it is that women AND men have to dress modestly. Now I don’t know what that means in a modern context, but I certainly feel that the niqab is just a desire to out-pious other muslim women. Indeed it’s highly controvertial and hence attracts a lot of attention, and so breaks that code on conduct. I’m also bemused at the no. of muslim men (I would think more on the Arab culture side) who wear ‘bling’ while their females halves are expected to wear something that was popular in the 7th century.

      I just hope that the weeks on ranting has released some bad blood that was on the boil after 7/7 and we can move on to a more constructive debate about the need for muslims and non-muslims to live together in modern Britain.

    9. Sahil — on 21st October, 2006 at 11:59 am  

      Sorry edit:

      Sunny your point on Bristish ‘Asian’ being naturally tory territory is spot on. The only REASON this voter segment has …

    10. soru — on 21st October, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

      I think this analysis misses the key point of what’s going on.

      Blaming the government for race-war headlines in newspapers is to ignore both who directly writes that racist crap, and the actual power structures that produce it.

      Loot at Sampson’s Anatomy of Britain.

      Inside the front cover, that has a diagram with a lot of interlocking circles, showing different institutions, like parliament, the unions, the army. The size of the circles shows the relative power of each of those institutions, which ones get to plead, which ones get to demand, and which ones get their way without even having to speak up.

      In the 2004 edition, two of those circles have become bloated, the PM and the media. It’s not really clear whether, since Thatcher, the power of the media grew in opposition to the PM, or vice versa. Either way, they dominate everything else, with most other institutions concentrating on trying to influence one or the other.

      What is clear is that 2 years after the book was published, the PM’s bubble has popped. Which leaves one institution ruling the UK unchallenged: the media. In the institutional sense, that’s not an abstract thing: it is a specific collection of a few hundred proprietors, editors and senior journalists.

      If there is a consensus amongst those 300 that troops should be moved, the government asks ‘how far. If they want something banned, the government asks ‘could we maybe make an exception for this special case’?

      The interests of those 300 are obviously in favour of selling papers and ratings. In one James Bond movie, a cartoon version of this is starting a war between the UK and China in order to sell newspapers.

      This is little different, apart from not being explicitly planned.

    11. sabinaahmed — on 21st October, 2006 at 12:26 pm  

      I agree with Katy and ElCid.On the programme the “Moral Maze” on R4, Mona Siddiqui, who is the only muslim woman speaker on islam i really have time for , said the same thing.
      I would defend peoples right to dress as they want to,but there are situations and professions where a certain conformity is required. Its like nurses and doctors cant dress in flowing fashionable clothes or dangling jewellry. Children as young as five ,the age that lady was teaching will be scared of her get up!
      And it is not just that the politicians are summing up the courage to say so,but the ordinary folk are also saying enough is enough. A dear friend of mine who is a Jew, and is married to a muslim man ,said the other day that she was really fed up with muslims making demands and being given concessions. She was not being political but voicing the common view.
      This issue should have never recieved the attention it got,but it was the under lying frustration of the ordinary folk against being politically correct,and the determination of various groups to assert their authority and be the voice of the “alleged” victimised minority which has raised the temprature.
      I do hope Mrs Azmi will not go to the european court or to the appeal court,as it will only increase the hostility and prolong her agony.
      This is almost as futile a case as that of Shabina begum,who wanted to wear a full flowing dress to school. At the age when she should have been doing her A levels,she throw away her education ,and fought these battles with the support of Hazb-e tahrer,and others, who jump on the band wagon to support the “victimised” minority.And it is this element which really provides the major spin to the issue.

    12. ZinZin — on 21st October, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

      Comparing the situation of Muslims in Britain to Jews in 1930s Germany is the kind of emotive language that does no-one any favours. It angers Islams critics as it is an example of playing the victim card and it produces a bunker mentality in the minds of British Muslims.

      The British people have had there tolerance stretched and broken. The tipping point however was not the 7/7 bombings but Anjem Choudary group protesting the Motoons issue. When that was not enough after the recent terrorist arrests a group of Community leaders met govt ministers and asked for Islamic public holidays and sharia law.

      What is needed is dialogue between Muslims and Non-Muslims and a realisation that their is a problem. The veil is a symbol of this problem. The problem is Islamic fundamentalism in which Britains Muslims and the population as a whole ignored up until 2005. The govt is not appealing to voters on race or religious grounds it has realised the groups that it has done business with are part of the problem and it is now cutting their funding.

      The debate over the veil that went on too long and can be blamed for a rise in violent attacks on Muslims, but govt ministers would not knowingly incite violence.

      Diversity is important, not in and of itself, but because it allows us to expand our horizons, to compare and contrast different values, beliefs and lifestyles, and make judgements upon them. In other words, because it allows us to engage in political dialogue and debate that can help create more universal values and beliefs, and a collective language of citizenship.
      Kenan Malik 1/2/05

      This debate needs to happen and moderate muslims must stand up to fundamentalists. I am asking for Muslims to be self-reflective in spite of all that has happened Non-Muslims are more than willing to give then a chance.

    13. Ismaeel — on 21st October, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

      Just to clarify one point and an important one. Whilst many scholars regard the face veil as optional, the vast majority of scholars of all 4 schools of traditional Sunni Islam regard it as compulsory. Therefore depending on which scholar a sister may be following she may or may not consider it to be compulsory.

    14. Sunny — on 21st October, 2006 at 2:41 pm  

      I think whether the veil is compulsory or not is a side issue. Getting caught up in that debate itself would stop us from understanding that this is a wider issue which is being played out with a silly debate over the veil.

      So while I agree with the sentiments by sabinaahmed and isaa, I think a debate on the veil itself is unnecessary. Q News editor Fareena Alam did a documentary for Radio 4 last week where a Muslim scholar said the same thing - that veils were unnecessary and these people simply wanted to re-create this utopian world by cutting themselves off from others.

      The real issue, as El Cid alludes to, is: Of course, it had been building since those Danish cartoon protests, and before then since 7/7, but what has happened lately is that a large chunk of Brits (of the non-BNP/Tory voting, multicoloured kind) have been roused into noisy rebellion, without concern for the consequences, in the full knowledge that they are right-minded, world-loving and of sound mind.

      I think some of the mainstream British Left and all of the hard-left communists like SWP and Respect, and their friends from the MCB, MAB, IHRC, MPAC, Ismaeel et al don’t seem to understand that the centre ground of this debate has shifted.

      Just because these people are “outraged” means nothing. They either have to bring themselves in tune with mainstream Muslim opinion, and by which I mean the non-practicing kind and the sensible kind, or they will simply become objects of ridicule.

      But for me there is a danger it is taken too far. And some of the media is trying to push the boundaries further by engaging in the sort of xenophobic language that would never apply to other minorities. That is the real worry. The fate of the teaching assistant is not of concern to me. If she wants to teach, she can teach in Saudi.

      So Ismaeel, in response to your points. David Cameron didn’t use the term ethnic ghettoes in his speech. That was made up by the Evening Standard. I read the speech. And the niqab issue was a bomb waiting to detonate. Try and come back to reality in the near futute, it will help debates.

    15. Sid — on 21st October, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

      What soru said.

      This Islamic “turn” is completely a media (as in Fleet St.) driven vehicle. Politicians are simply hucksters jumping on for the convenience.

      Perverse is how the the traditional poles of opinion defined by the Labour/Conservative divisions are completely switched on this one.

    16. Riz — on 21st October, 2006 at 3:31 pm  

      As a representative member of the Ninja Confederation, I must say there is another issue regarding the veil that has been overlooked. The acceptance of veil wearing Muslims in public by the public has allowed real Ninja’s (a decent, but highly secretive bunch) to wander about freely for the first time in many centuries. Indeed, the ninja now walks happily among us, they take their children to the parks, they walk the streets, they go to the shopping centers. The ninja is a contributing member to society. The ninja is in our midst. By integrating in society and finding ‘balance’, the ninja been able to give up the violent ways of old.

      The real threat of the this whole veil fiasco is that if Muslim veil wearer’s are sufficiently intimidated that they give up wearing the veil, then the ninja’s will be left standing out like sore thumbs and they will be targeted by association. When this happens, the ninja will be quick to retaliate and they will strike out with great precision and ferocity, exploiting their familiarity with human pressure points, their ability to turn temporarily invisible, and utilising their specialised knowledge of deadly dusts and poisions. Many will be killed with the ninja sword or maimed by the ninja star.

      Shortly after the identity of the ninja becomes known, they will be quick to move underground to avoid an all out war with the UK government, and perhaps with their long standing enemy, the Japanese Samurai. We have to appreciate that the ‘surfacing’ of the ninja is a new phenomenon, believed to have taken place in the 1990′s, once their fame from 1970′s ninja films and 1980′s ninja-based computer games such as Shinobi, started to recede, and when the ninja realised they could blend in with Muslim veil wearers. We now risk reversing all these years of progress, and many people could get killed in the process. This is the real concern. Is this what we want? Because this is what will happen.

      * A recent academic study estimates that between 10-20% of veil wearers are real ninjas.

    17. Sunny — on 21st October, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

      Mr Rizwan, where in the great gods of JM Keynes and Ricardo have you been hiding?

    18. Ismaeel — on 21st October, 2006 at 3:51 pm  


      no it wasn’t a bomb waiting to happen. It was people happily minding their own business, dressing as they want to dress as they are free to do in a liberal democracy.

      People who should know better and be more responsible have decided to pick on them, including apparantly some Muslim scholars who should know better but clearly are looking for acceptance.

      The Muslim mainstream may be non-practicing but i can assure you that they will defend to the death their religion and their Prophet (SAAWS).

      You may have an abnormal number of sell-outs who post here who are desperate to be accepted by mainstream society at any cost including their faith, but they are a tiny minority of the Muslim communuity.

      Anyway i don’t intend to get into any pointless debates here with you or anyone else, i’ve got more important things to do.

    19. Riz — on 21st October, 2006 at 3:59 pm  

      Oops Sunny, I have been a little absent. Good to see PP more alive and kicking than ever. Myself, I’m still living in a cave in Milton Keynes, now that my trading funds have been cut by 50% by application of my own unique brand of skill and cunning. With winter coming, I will remain hunkered down as I try to claw my way back to break-even….tis a long, long journey.

    20. Uncleji — on 21st October, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

      While we’re on the subject of being nice to the rightests. A certian Mr Redwood (he of vulcan descent) but a interesting point of the Government lurching from multicultural to ranting at the Muslims. Its all smacks of white liberals being pained by the betryal of those lovely oppressed minorties.

      right I;ve off to deafen those liberals with really loud fireworks….
      Mr Riz even to break even I would put my money on the brown folk

    21. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 21st October, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

      Why can’t these mother fuckers leave us Muslims alone? spit!

    22. Chairwoman — on 21st October, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

      I always enjoy the fireworks Uncleji. Happy Diwali.

    23. Vikrant — on 21st October, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

      Happy Diwali to all the Hindus,Sikhs,Jain,Buddhists and mithai loving pigs people like me.

    24. Sahil — on 21st October, 2006 at 8:02 pm  

      Happy Diwali everyone!!! I’m planning to get a real big TNT and head to the cow fields near my place
      *rubbing hands gleefully, muwhahahahahah*

    25. steve — on 21st October, 2006 at 11:43 pm  

      It is really just another excuse for the Mail to bash the Labour Party.

    26. Sunny — on 22nd October, 2006 at 12:51 am  


      no it wasn’t a bomb waiting to happen.

      Given there has been such a huge response to media coverage by ordinary people (hence the two weeks of constant coverage), you’re trying to fool me and yourself.

      including apparantly some Muslim scholars who should know better but clearly are looking for acceptance.

      That is your answer to anyone who doesn’t agree with your beliefs - they must be “selling out”. Or maybe it’s you who deliberately wants to create a conflict.
      You’re perfectly captured in this post on the ME blog ‘Aqoul.

      but i can assure you that they will defend to the death their religion and their Prophet
      No one said their religion was in danger of being wiped out. Most British Muslims just want to live an ordinary and nice life without creating a big fuss over everything. You know, pretty much like everyone else. It you and your rent-an-outraged-quote friends who get annoyed over everything.

      desperate to be accepted by mainstream society

      Again, that is your desperate answer to anyone who you do not agree with. We try and have a more intelligent conversation than that here. Maybe that’s why this place is too highbrow for you.

    27. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 22nd October, 2006 at 1:06 am  


      Why you would regard Hussan al-Turabi as a fundamentalist is beyound me. He is the Sudanese politician right? I hope I am getting the right Turabi right. In any event your best bet was to point out the fact that Shayhk Nasiruldeen Al Albani, the Salafis favorite scholar apparently agreed that the niqab was not a recommend act while other scholars of the “Saudi Salafis” believed that they were obligatory.

      In any event this woman is going against the whole idea of the Niqab while bringing so much attention to herself. If it were me I wouldnt feel compelled to wear it before the children but if my employer were making an issue I would quit and not hear another word of it. Where is the modest in behavior?

    28. Ismaeel — on 22nd October, 2006 at 3:37 am  

      Lol, this place too highbrow for me, do me a favour.

      Sunny you say that whether the veil is compulsory or not is not an issue, then go on to say some Muslim scholar (unnamed) said it was unneccessary- contradiction me thinks.

      Then you who keeps on spouting on about the need to respect diversity within religious and ethnic groups then tells us we must all conform with the majority of our religious group despite the fact they don’t care to actually practice the religion. Another contradiction.

      Then you accuse me of being a Wahabbi/Salafy, when i made clear from my second post on this issue above and on most posts i’ve ever made on this site that I am a Sunni and a follower of Sufism.

      Yes the scholar was irresponsible because there is a large body of scholarship which regards the niqab as obligatory and many women in this country follow that. There is much diversity and difference of opinion within Islam and again while you keep on harping on about diversity within religious groups, you want to homogenous it when it doesn’t suit your own particular political and social views.

      As for the bomb comment, it was deliberatly provacative and inflammatory language and you know it. The fact that there has been a large response is because the bigots in this country are gaining the courage to vocalise their bigotry by having it legitimised by mainstream politicians.

      The fact that you are defending all this to the hilt because of your ever apparant political loyalties shows your true nature- a hypocrite.

    29. Sunny — on 22nd October, 2006 at 5:37 am  


      Sunny you say that whether the veil is compulsory or not is not an issue, then go on to say some Muslim scholar (unnamed) said it was unneccessary- contradiction me thinks.

      It’s not a contradiction. The issue is irrelevant in the broader context of British society, while at the same time there are lots of scholars who say the niqab is not required. How exactly do these statements contradict each other?

      then tells us we must all conform with the majority of our religious group despite the fact they don’t care to actually practice the religion. Another contradiction.

      Again, you’re tying yourself in imaginary knots. I’ve never said we need to convert to Christianity. I believe in letting people do what they want providing they don’t hurt others. But there are limits, usually codified in laws and to a lesser extent implicitly in social etiquette, that govern society. I’m sure this isn’t too hard to understand.

      Yes the scholar was irresponsible because there is a large body of scholarship which regards the niqab as obligatory and many women in this country follow that.

      Irresponsible to you but why should I take your word for anything? All you do is declare anyone you disagree with as a sellout. That’s not an argument.

      you want to homogenous it when it doesn’t suit your own particular political and social views.

      Not really. I expect there is diversity of thought. You are the one accusing people of being sellouts and accusing scholars of being irresponsible. You’re the intolerant one.

      The fact that there has been a large response is because the bigots in this country are gaining the courage to vocalise their bigotry by having it legitimised by mainstream politicians.

      So you think most white people in this country are bigots? But I knew you thought that anyway.

      The other ad hominem attacks are amusing and have little impact.

    30. mirax — on 22nd October, 2006 at 6:57 pm  

      >>And some of the media is trying to push the boundaries further by engaging in the sort of xenophobic language that would never apply to other minorities… If she wants to teach, she can teach in Saudi.>>

      Wouldn’t sentence#2 be condemned as xenophobic if a white person uttered it?

    31. Ismaeel — on 22nd October, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

      as usual you avoid points by trying to turn them into things that they are not, sad so very sad. I hope other people see through you for the bigot that you are

    32. Sunny — on 22nd October, 2006 at 9:35 pm  

      Ah, but you’re the real bigot Ismaeel, hiding behind using your religion as an excuse.

      Mirax - The whole point of a veil is to not draw attention to yourself. Given our teaching assistant is happy to go in front of the cameras and draw as much attention to herself as possible, she is doing it not for religion but political reasons. It is a typically Hizb ut-Tahrir way of thinking. They want tolerance for themselves but would not apply the same ideals to others.

      This has nothing to do with race to be honest. If the woman was white I’d say the same. In fact I think Ismaeel should emigrate too. His plans to be the de-facto spokesperson for the Muslim community since the launch of MAC haven’t really worked according to plan. Maybe he’ll have a better time trying in Saudi.

    33. bikhair aka taqiyyah — on 22nd October, 2006 at 11:00 pm  


      “Then you accuse me of being a Wahabbi/Salafy, when i made clear from my second post on this issue above and on most posts i’ve ever made on this site that I am a Sunni and a follower of Sufism.”

      Sunny isnt the only being contradictory now is he.

      I’ve got a quesiton will you be making tasbih with the teeth of a dead goat your grandfather swore up and down belonged to a pious man?

      I crack myself up.

    34. Ismaeel — on 23rd October, 2006 at 1:17 am  

      no Bikhair, why don’t u actually find out what real
      Sunnism is rather than the distorted Salafy nonsense that u follow.

      I should emigrate now Sunny? It gets better and better, that used to be the standard nonsense we would hear from UKIP members and Kilroy Silk, but that’s fine keep digging ur own grave

    35. Ismaeel — on 23rd October, 2006 at 1:21 am  

      I’m a bigot hiding behind my religion as an excuse…yeah alright then, nice one. I don’t claim to be anyone’s representative. MAC was a one off coalition to stand up for the honor of the Prophet (SAWS) we said that at the time. We never wanted MCB’s job, we still don’t want it.
      All i was doing is defending a Muslim woman’s right to choose which scholarly opinion she wants to, but u want to force us to take Saira Khan as our Imam. So much for respecting diversity.

    36. Ismaeel — on 23rd October, 2006 at 1:28 am  

      Oh and now a victimised woman is not allowed to stand up and defend herself because Sunny is now the new great interpreter of Islamic law.

    37. sonia — on 23rd October, 2006 at 2:03 am  

      hey ninja! you got some good points man…:-) where’d all that camouflage go?

    38. Sunny — on 23rd October, 2006 at 2:20 am  

      MAC was a one off coalition to stand up for the honor of the Prophet (SAWS) we said that at the time.

      Oh really. Forgetting that document demanding ‘global civility’ are we? We at least you’re no longer haranguing anyone with press releases.

      to stand up and defend herself

      Give it a rest Ismaeel. You and I both know the point of the niqab. You’re only trying to fool yourself by coming back with such statements.

    39. Leon — on 23rd October, 2006 at 10:58 am  

      Interesting piece, and no surprise, none at all…

      A very good read by Oborne about Ali Campbell and the background to Blair. Good insight into how much a emtpy headed fool Blair is in some ways…

    40. Refresh — on 23rd October, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

      As usual this thread’s totally lost the politics. Sunny, at least you should keep it in line. But I guess everyone needs to re-affirm or deny their affilitions prior to being able to comment.


      The country is in near political-meltdown. Labour follows its New Laboour instincts. A tory for a change delivers an analysis, which I happen to agree with, and Pickled Politics end up where it will always end up.

    41. fatwa dodger — on 26th October, 2006 at 10:30 am  

      OK so I started reading this thread at the beginning, but as there are so many comments ended up scrolling down to here which means that this comment will probably be entirely out of context.

      Re: the Aisha Azmi thing. I think she is acting like a hypocrite as she didn’t wear niqab during interview but then decided she had to wear it.

      Re niqab wearing in general. What’s the big deal???? Weirdly I met up with a bunch of Muslims (I do that sometimes, being one myself) and the debate was split between women having the right to wear the veil if they so choose and how it was utterly unnecessary and abhorrent. Interestingly - all the women in the room (none of whom veil in any manner) thought it was a matter of personal choice and all the blokes (including my dad, husband and bro) had a really big problem with it.

      The fact is that you can quote scriptures all you like, but according to some schools/interpretations of Islam the Niqab rocks and if you’re a nice Muslim lady you should wear one. If women from those schools of Islam choose to wear it then why the hell should they have to put up with crap and disrespect from people who don’t agree (El Cid for example). I might not like the way El Cid dresses but it doesn’t give me the right to go around insulting him.

      As a western-clothes wearing, thoroughly non-veiling Muslim woman I don’t feel threatened by Niqab wearing women, so why do El-Cid, many English people as well as many Muslim men have such a problem with them?

      Is it just that it’s an easy way to prove your ‘integrationist’ credentials without having to change your thinking or behaviour? Just have a go at ‘backward women’.

      How many of these people actually know Niqab-wearing women? I know loads and for some reason they’re a bit like the nuns in Sister Act. Harmless, sweet, funny, feisty and lovely. And I absolutely defend their right to wear anything they like.

      Having said that… I know that all my nice Niqab-wearing friends would not have a problem with adjusting their outfits if it meant that, for example, a class of 5-year-olds (who are hardly likely to be lusting after them anyway) couldn’t understand what they were saying. Or they had to spend the day working in a lab surrounded by vats of chemicals and bunsen burners. Or they decided to enter the tour de France (all the flowy bits could get stuck in the wheels). Etc.

      Obviously when people like Shabina Begum and Aisha Azmi politicise the issue for no real reason then they are schmucks - doing exactly what the political Islamists and our spineless politicians want - distracting from the real arena where Muslim women are fighting for their rights (right to choose a partner, right to study, right to work, rights in marriage etc) to a symbolic issue where all the blame goes on the woman (she is subjugated/stupid/falsely concious/fundamentalist therefore wears a veil). Quite frankly, I’m bored with it and if I wasn’t so good-looking ;-) I would take up the veil myself just to prove a point.

    42. Jai — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

      =>”distracting from the real arena where Muslim women are fighting for their rights (right to choose a partner, right to study, right to work, rights in marriage etc)”

      I believe that Channel 4 are going to have a programme on this very issue at (I think) 8pm next Monday.

    43. Anas — on 26th October, 2006 at 6:40 pm  

      Good article by Karen Armstrong in today’s Guardian comparing the modern reaction to the veil to the 19th century reaction to the nun’s habit:,,1931544,00.html


      When my order was founded in the 1840s, not long after Catholic emancipation, people were so enraged to see nuns brazenly wearing their habits in the streets that they pelted them with rotten fruit and horse dung. Nuns had been banned from Britain since the Reformation; their return seemed to herald the resurgence of barbarism. Two hundred and fifty years after the gunpowder plot, Catholicism was still feared as unassimilable, irredeemably alien to the British ethos, fanatically opposed to democracy and freedom, and a fifth column allied to dangerous enemies abroad.
      Today the veiled Muslim woman appears to symbolise the perceived Islamic threat, as nuns once epitomised the evils of popery. She seems a barbaric affront to hard-won values that are essential to our cultural identity: gender equality, freedom, transparency and openness. But in the Muslim world the veil has also acquired a new symbolism. If government ministers really want to debate the issue fruitfully, they must become familiar with the bitterly ironic history of veiling during the last hundred years.

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