Saturday, 16 October 2010

Veil Part of "British Way Of Life"?

Quintessentially British

The full Islamic face-veil is a part of the “British way of life” and should be celebrated along with religious symbols such as the crucifix, according to a report published today.

In the new report from think-tank Civitas, Alveena Malik, a former faith adviser to the last Labour government, said: “The wearing of religious symbols, including the full veil, should be a fundamental human right of an individual in both the public and private sphere.

“The real test for religious symbols in the public sphere should always be: ‘Does the wearing of a symbol (such as the kirpan, turban, yarmulke, crucifix and the veil) hinder a citizen’s ability to perform their public civic duties?’”

Quite aside from whether the burqa is really compatible with the British way of life, and whether or not it is "practical", we need to get our stories straight here. I don't know whether Alveena Malik is herself a Muslim, although I suspect she is, but since many Muslim spokesmen say similar things to this, the point still stands. The question is: Is the veil really a "religious symbol", or isn't it? Some Muslims tell us that the veil has nothing to do with Islam at all, that it is really just a cultural hangover from certain non-Islamic tribal cultures, or even from the medieval Christian world - and they will say that anyone who says it does in fact have something to do with Islam is a greasy racist bigot. Then in the next breath, they will turn around and say that the burqa is a "religious" symbol that deserves respect. So which is it? A pre-Islamic cultural garment or an Islamic traditional dress? And if it is a religious symbol, what exactly is it a symbol of?

And will Alveena Malik ever publish a report defending the rights of Muslim women not to wear traditional Islamic dress? If not, why not?

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