Thursday, October 05, 2006

Muslim Women Told to Consider Removing Veils

The British Labour Government leaders have thrown us critics off-balance with an unexpected and radical change of direction. They've started talking sense!

The MP, Jack Straw, said that he asks his visitors with full face veils to consider removing them. The following comments from Jack Straw seem entirely reasonable and self-evident. He said:

"Muslim women in the UK who wear full veils make better, positive relations between communities more difficult." - Blindingly obvious.

"those people who do wear the veil [might] think about the implications for community relations." - A gentle and wise suggestion.

"in our society, we are able to relate, particularly to strangers, by being able to read their faces, and if you can't read people's faces, that does provide some separation" - Sometimes you have to spell it out.

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee is quick to assert that no one has a right to criticise anything Islam. "Who is Jack Straw to comment on negative symbols within a religion that is not his own?" demands Halima Hussain missing the point entirely.

Hussain and Islamic buddies might well be concerned that someone has the courage to even politely question them. They feel much better when any dissent is entirely unacceptable. Last month another cabinet minister, John Reid, asked Muslims to be vigilant that their children not be misled by terrorist groups. (A little patronising I'll grant, but not unwarranted given recent comments by police that they are watching hundreds of young Muslims suspected of involvement in terrorism.) "How dare you come to a Muslim area...?" and "John Reid go to Hell" came back the characteristic refrain.

Jack Straw's description of the face veil as "a visible statement of separation and of difference" is welcome honesty. We are not quite up to the frankness of Australian Prime Minister John Howard who declared, "if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you."

Mind you, having looked around for an image of a veil, this one's quite nice.

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