Newest Review: ... of their religion. In some religions Women have to wear the veil because they aren't allowed to show any skin only eyes but that is... more
A VEILED ATTACK?
Does it matter if women wear the veil?
Member Name: Mauri
Does it matter if women wear the veil?
Advantages: A Debate is neded
Disadvantages: extremist on both sides stifle debate
I think the discussion surrounding the wearing of the veil has been spun out of proportions and there does seem to be a wish by some to use it as a means of starting a debate with strong anti Islamic undercurrent to it.
Although I might question Jacks Straw’s timing in making his views on the veil known I don’t see anything in what he said that I would consider unreasonable or anti-islamic. If you listen to the interviews he gave and read the article he
DID NOT want to ban wearing of veils
DID NOT refuse to speak with women who wore veils
Many contributors to the debate have misrepresented what he said.
I have heard many people comment how if ‘these people’ want to live in our country then they must adapt to our ways. This worries me. In many cases ‘these people’ are second and third generation British they are in their own country and ‘their ways’ are part of British culture whether ‘we’ like it or not. British culture like the language is not something that can be preserved it is constantly changing and with an increasing Muslim population there will be more influence form Islamic culture and our ‘British’ culture will adapt to this.
What does wearing the veil mean? To some it is a visual representation of their faith and something that has to be done, to other it is a tradition that while not necessary is desirable to maintain their identity as followers of Islam. For some it is a symbol of the repressive attitudes to women within the Islamic faith.
I think as a westerner it is difficult for me to judge, which is the most accurate interpretation. Certainly amongst the Muslim women I know there seems to be a variety of views as to what the faith requires, most feel happy enough to adopt the hijab (covering as meaning a scarf to cover the head) but leaving the face in view. This would seem to comply with the verses in the Koran that tell men and women to dress ‘modestly’. It is pointed out by some scholars that the term modesty can vary within the context of their time so many Islamic cultures allow more freedom in prescribing what men and women can wear.
It is obvious that over the years the interpretation of the original holy scriptures have differed in many Islamic countries and it seems (to me at least) that many of those interpretations have had sexist overtones in that the restrictions on men are far less than those on women. This I believe has nothing to do with the original text but with the interpretation that scholars mostly men I would imagine have attributed to them.
Is the wearing of the veil divisive?
This is difficult to answer since on purely practical consideration the veil or Hijab for that matter identifies the wearer as being part of a particular faith and tradition and indeed it original purposes was to allow people to distinguish between Muslim women and ‘Slave women’ so they might not be harassed.
I think like any other particular attire that identifies the wearer as a member of a particular group it does elicit a negative response from some think of teen age hoodies, punks, or even Sikhs all who have had difficulty being accepted in the mainstream at some time.
I don’t see this a problem for the members of these groups but more of a problem for the wider society to be tolerant and accept those views. However tolerance works both ways and in certain circumstances wearing the particular outfit does cause offence or hinders maintaining social interaction and active participation in wider society then I think the I think it should be adapted to suit the general consensus.
This does not mean with reference to veils that they should not be worn when walking around town or even in places of work but if it is going to make interaction with people difficult and impinge on the activity that is undertaken then I think it is not reasonable to continue with it in those instances. I personally would feel uncomfortable about interviewing or being interviewed by someone wearing a veil. Tradition is fine and should be respected but the underlying assumption that is being made here is that as a man I would or could inflict sexual advances or harassment to a woman simply because I can see her face, I find deeply offensive and disturbing. It also seems to be implying that if such an attack happened to a woman that is not adhering to the dress code then in some ways she has brought this upon herself and the male wrong can in some way can be diminished, the old ‘she was asking for it’ idea. Again I find this sexist and deeply disturbing.
Now I realise that these views are a product of my liberal western upbringing and that even in our society we do have certain dress codes, which we find unacceptable. I can see that the viewpoint of someone having grown up in a Islamic culture would be different so I have no objection to Muslim women freely wearing what they feel appropriate (even though I might question the ideas behind it) as long as my own sensibilities are to some extent addressed by them. Where possible tolerance on both sides and a common understanding of each other’s point of view.
A debate is essential without accusations on one side of being anti Islamic, decadent, depraved an immoral and on the other of being insular, intolerant illiberal and anti-western.
Summary: tolerance is needed on both sides of the debate