As Andrew Gilligan has noted today at the Telegraph, a document on the website of the Muslim Council of Britain (which you can read in full here - I have saved it for re-upload in case an embarassed MCB tries to bury it) declares that the obligation for Muslim women to wear the veil is "not open to debate".
The document says that not covering the face is a "shortcoming" and suggests that any Muslims who advocate being uncovered could be guilty of rejecting Islam:
"We advise all Muslims to exercise extreme caution on this issue, since denying any part of Islam may lead to disbelief.
"Not practising something enjoined by Allah and his Messenger… is a shortcoming. Denying it is much more serious."
The statement quotes from the Qur'an: "It is not for a believer, man or woman, that they should have any option in their decision when Allah and his Messenger have decreed a matter. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed strayed in a plain error." (33:36)
Unmentioned by Gilligan in his article is the part where the MCB tell believers to "show solidarity" against anyone who criticises the veil, since this criticism "might prove to be a stepping-stone towards further restrictions. Today the veil, tomorrow it could be the beard, jilbab and thereafter the headscarf!"
Worst of all, the MCB (whose leaders, it must be pointed out, have also signed petitions in support of Islamic terrorist groups and made excuses for Saudi hate literature) deliberately diminish the suffering the burqa can cause, claiming that "the level of discomfort caused is insignificant, particularly when compared to the discomfort and problems that result from other common and less widely condemned practices such as sexual promiscuity, nudity and alcohol consumption by other segments of society."
Meanwhile, the Mail reports that Muslim women in Tower Hamlets who do not wear headscarves are being threatened with violence and even death by Islamic "extremists" intent on imposing sharia law on parts of Britain.
How much clearer can it be made that women do not "choose" to wear this hideous monstrosity? The vast majoriy of women who claim to have chosen to don this garb have actually done so because they are surrounded by a culture that perpetuates the fear that if they do not wear it, they will either be physically punished in this world or go to Hell in the next. That's not freedom.
Women who have donned the veil have described its debilitating effects:
When we walked out of the cool souq area into the blazing hot sun, I gasped for breath and sucked furiously through the sheer black fabric. The air tasted stale and dry as it filtered through the thin gauzy cloth. I had purchased the sheerest veil available, yet I felt I was seeing life through a thick screen. How could women see through veils made of a thicker fabric? The sky was no longer blue, the glow of the sun had dimmed; my heart plunged to my stomach when I realized that from that moment, outside my own home I would not experience life as it really is in all its color. The world suddenly seemed a dull place. And dangerous, too! I groped and stumbled along the pitted, cracked sidewalk, fearful of breaking an ankle or leg.
And numerous studies have highlighted the health problems encountered by Muslim women as a specific consequence of lack of exposure to sunlight.
We can therefore conclude two things:
1) The majority of women who wear the Islamic dress do not choose to do so. Their society chooses for them.
2) Any woman who does freely choose to wear this garb is either insane or a masochist.