The Veil Mark 2

// 19 October 2006

I’ve had some interesting feedback emails on my round-up of opinion pieces concerning the Muslim veil. The first was concerned that I seemed to be coming down on the side of the veil-as-personal-choice contingent, and felt that feminists should just stand up and say loudly when we see women of any religion being oppressed. And the second from someone who knows Muslim women who consider their veils “a sign of independence and a visual message to the world” (although she personally is uncomfortable with it).

Just to clarify, my personal reaction is to be very uneasy about the veil. It goes without saying (you would think) that this gives nobody the right to be rude, patronising or dismissive towards women who choose to wear it and, fundamentally, as a white atheist woman, I don’t think it’s my place to wade in and try to “change the minds” of women in Muslim communities.

But the tone of the debate is getting deeply disturbing. What started out with a series of fairly well-reasoned articles on both sides seems to be degenerating into racist attacks \x96 both verbal and physical \x96 on an entire community. Whilst the articles I highlighted last week were largely thoughtful, I thought I\x92d point out this article as an example of all that is wrong with this \x91debate\x92 \x96 racism is all the more poisonous when it comes disguised as concern. It seems like a bad time to be a Muslim in this country.

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