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Sunday, October 08, 2006


Absurd: The Veil Controversy

Storm in a tea cup

It is almost funny to see British politicians, media and the Muslim community doing their bit over Jack Straw's remarks about veil-wearing women. Nothing he said called for such over the top reaction.

It is a sign of the times when thin-skinned Muslims feel slighted by little or nothing and politicians bend over backward to appease them.

No woman should be forced to stop wearing a veil (headscarf, chador, burqa, or whatever) and no woman should be required by law or religious edicts to wear one. It appears that some Muslim women prefer to cover their face in public while others, given a choice, would gladly do without veil. Jack Straw expressed his personal preference. Just because he is a member of the cabinet his comments should not be blown up out of proportion to what actually occurred.

It is not always a "personal choice". Not in Britain, not in France, not in today's Iraq, and certainly not in Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Guardian

Ruth Kelly yesterday defended the wearing of the veil as a 'personal choice' by Muslims that must be respected. She made her comments as the Cabinet began distancing itself from Jack Straw's disclosure that he asked women attending his constituency surgery to uncover their faces.

Kelly, the Women's Minister and Communities Secretary, also warned that more serious threats to female freedom must not be 'swept under the carpet', citing the refusal of some Muslim families to let their daughters go to university for fear of exposure to undesirable influences or the failure to confront domestic violence in the Muslim community.

Her repositioning of the debate followed three days of uproar over Straw's disclosure. Kelly told The Observer she changed her own views about traditional dress being repressive after speaking to high-profile Muslim women.

The Muslims who complain about discrimination ought to pause and consider conditions in Islamic countries where one has no choice. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women do not have full voting right; are not allowed to drive a car; and consumption of alcohol is prohibited. You cannot buy a bottle of beer in Yemen while a large percentage of the Yemenis go about chewing qat and getting high. The hypocrisy is astounding. What position do the Muslims from Pakistan take about Hudood under which a woman needs four male witnesses to file a complaint for being raped -- do they want a similar law adopted in England ?

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