Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The tricky issue of the veil in Britain.

At a striptease in Saudi Arabia, all the men were shouting, "Show us your face."

A fierce debate is going on in England. Should women wear the Islamic veil? Is this a sign of segregation in a country trying to integrate Muslims? This issue has been pushed to the forefront since the onslaught of home grown terrorism.
My solution - post David Blunkett to deal with Muslim integration, I don't think he really cared one way or the other whether a woman was veiled or not.

Seriously though. Is it a sign of segregation and refusal to partake in British culture? Yes, to a point it is.
Do I agree with the veil - I wouldn't want my wife to wear one.
I don't think it is a necessary part of the Islamic religion so much as a symbol of certain cultures and countries known for their oppression of women. To me, the veil is a sign of a woman's subservience to her husband.

All that said, I have to bring up the argument that Britain today gives people the freedom to express their views through their dress. In a world where people have pink mohawks, wear vampire white makeup, get piercings and tattoos everywhere, wear their jeans halfway down their bums, and so on, what exactly is defined as fitting into British culture?
Alternatively, while I'll take the stand it is the choice of a women whether she wants to wear the veil in public or not, I also feel that if people go to Britain without being ready to accept certain cultural norms and freedoms, they might be more comfortable staying back in their home countries. If their style of dress is so fiercely important to them, perhaps they shouldn't have left in the first place.
In many stricter Muslim families, women are not allowed out unescorted by their male protectors. (Husband, father, brother.)
Yet here in England they not only are allowed out, but are actively partaking in British political debates, discussions, schooling, and life. So, while it's okay to partake in British society in some ways that defy their cultural norms, they cling fiercely to something that holds them back from really achieving these freedoms.
In my opinion, the veil is a symbol of being held back. Of staying anonomys and unimportant, and though a voice comes from behind the veil, it's a faceless and power-stripped voice which to me shouts. "This is what my husband is allowing me to say."

If that's what a person wants, then so be it. Otherwise, "Show us your face."

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