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
Take cover, that womens wearing a veil, she could explode any moment.
Does it matter if women wear the veil?
Member Name: steerpyke
Does it matter if women wear the veil?
Advantages: a complex but almost irrelevant issue
Disadvantages: as usual a right wing issue taken out of context
Us and Them – Part One – The British.
So who are the British, well that’s easy, isn’t it? Well not really no. Britishness is an elusive quality really, it has its uses when a place like the Falkland Islands are under attack and we need a unifying theme to get behind, but go to Scotland and Northern Ireland and the whole idea of Britishness seems as popular as Robert Kilroy Silk So lets try to define whom this British person that so many people claim to be so proud of being really is. Well, go back just over two thousand years and we find a country made up of the mixed remnants of various waves of migrants from central Europe, the last of whom we know today as the Celts. We like the idea of Celts, the fierce tribal ancients who stood up to the might of Rome. They had a rich culture, striking artwork, proud ideals and a quick temper and some impressive moustaches. With the Roman invasion, or should we say assimilation, the gates opened to new stock, not so much to a race of Italians but as their troops were levied from all over the know world a massive mix of races enter the melting pot. There were Germanic legionaries in Colchester, there were Middle Eastern cavalry on Hadrian’s Wall, there were Spanish troops in York and many of theses settled and raised families after their military service was over. After the collapse of the Roman system new settlers arrived from Northern Germany and Jutland, a group that we remember as the Anglo Saxons, never a unified people, not to begin with at least, a mix of tribes as diverse as a Dutchman from a Dane from a Pole. In 1066 the Normans arrive and take over the country, basically fourth generation Danish Vikings who had been ruling Normandy, who add their chaotic genetic make to the mix. As the Middle Ages move on even more mixing takes place French merchants, Dutch religious refugees, Flemish traders all go into the mix and with the expansion of British Colonialism we have people from all over the globe becoming part of the British make up. So when you try to define yourself as British, unless your family lived up a tree for the past 50 generation then quite frankly genetically, historically and culturally you’re a bloody mess, a mongrel nation of the highest order.
If you analyse peoples so called patriotism it seems to fall a bit sort anyway. “I love my country I do, well not Scotland or Wales obviously and I don’t like northerners, but the rest I love. Except the Midlands it’s all a bit poor there, and they’re all thick in the West Country and inbred in East Anglia, but London I love. Well not North London obviously its full of wide boys, but South of the river, you can’t fault it, well not the east end, and all the Jewish bits, my street I love my street, well not them at number 22….” Patriotism in this country has always seemed to be more about bashing foreign countries rather than being proud of our own. After all its our national duty to hate the French ist it?
Us and Them – Part Two – Behind the Veil
So as we are talking about the wearing of veils, lets try to define whom it is we are discussing here. The problem with the whole them and us argument that so many people resort to is that where as Britain is a defined geographical place, the other camp is less easy to define. Islam sets out dress codes for both men and women, loose fitting garments for both, a long skirt and scarf for women, the Hijab. Although many people have used quotes directly from the Koran to help form their argument, they are missing the point somewhat. In the Bible Adam and Eve are portrayed wearing fig leaves in the Garden of Eden, but would anyone seriously advocate that. The wearing of such clothing is not a dress code as such; it is a statement of devotion and an overall attitude, an extension of their religious practice, the Halal. Remembering that Islam is a faith and not a place means that there are many Islamic identities and interpretations amongst its diverse make up of peoples and some are therefore culturally more strictly enforced. Some will wear an open face scarf; others will wear a more full face covering with just the eyes showing. There are differences of interpretation within the broader framework. But isn’t that the same with any religion, Catholicism is always seen as more strict in its Christian application than Protestantism for example and the same holds true within Islam. The “them” argument is also difficult to uphold considering that the women in question may be second or third generation British Asians who rightly regard Britain as their homeland. They may have been born here, they make a home here, they work here, they pay taxes here, they vote here. So British by any definition.
The idea of the Hijab being an attitude reflected in a dress sense is echoed in other religions. Although largely died out now, Jewish women up until the nineteenth century would cover their heads as a symbol of pious observance and some of the stricter Hasidic sects still use wigs for this very purpose.
In the Christian tradition St Paul had some interesting things to say about the covering of heads.
"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).
Bet that sits fairly uncomfortably with some of you and it walks all over the argument that Christianity doesn’t make some strict observances on anyone wishing to take it strictly by the book. And if you argue that it’s an out dated requirement and open to modern re-evaluation then surely Islam is allowed to undertake its own interpretations of its codes and laws. So it would seem that the idea of covering the head through religious devotion appears in all Abrahamic traditions, whether people chose to observe it to the letter is a different issue, the fact remains that according to all three “religions of the book” there is a strong tradition of head covering and Islam though the centre of the debate at the moment is by know means alone in this.
Everyone is someone else’s weirdo.
So what are we objecting to here with the wearing of veils. They don’t look like the rest of us, is that it? Well nor do I half the time, my wardrobe seems be made up of a combination of Mad Max leathers and Lord Byron silk shirts, does that mean that because the rest of you have different dress sense, I should get the bling out and Chav up. If it’s the dress code then where else are we going to draw the line of common acceptability, Goths, Punks, people who mix checks and stripes, people who were pink, tweed jackets. Surely on a purely dress code, its everyone’s given right to be able to undertake what the Americans call “the pursuit of happiness” and that includes what they wear, be it for religious, practical, fashion or what ever reason.
So assuming we all agree that we want to live in a society where there is no fashion police and you can where what ever you want, meaning that everyone else can wear what they want too, where does that leave us. Many people have argued that being a country that is Anglican it is in poor taste for people to wear clothes that represent so adamantly an anti establishment view. Well considering that Sunday attendance amongst Church of England worshipers is now around 1 million, a sixtieth of the population I would say that there isn’t actually much support for the official religion of this country. There has always been a wide range of diversity amongst the Christian Church anyway even to the point of long internal disputes, assassinations and war, so who are we to advocate our brand of religion when it seems no more safe and stable than any other. Cultural mixing and religious evolution are ongoing factors in any country and the mixing of Islam and other eastern views with western doctrine is nothing new. One of the accusations that helped close down the Knights Templar on that fateful Friday the Thirteenth in 1314 was the charge that they had become too influenced by Arabic thought and learning, still you can blame the introduction of algebra to the west on them, and the European numbering system, and astronomy, chemistry and much more. The other religious military order of the day, the Knights Hospitillars gave us…. wait for it, the St Johns Ambulance, I know which one I would be most impressed by.
We don’t seem to object to Sikhs wearing turbans, Hasidic Jews in big hats and ringlets, Krishna devotees in their colourful garments handing out vegan food, so why are we getting so wound up about the covering of a women’s face. People have previously levelled the argument that you can’t wear crucifixes in Muslim countries. There are a few things to say on this. Firstly, statistically you are probably not one of the one-in-sixty that actually goes to church so why are you bothered? The second point is that this is actually wrong. In the stricter countries, such as Saudi Arabia this may be the case, but I went to a Coptic Christian service in Egypt just for the experience and it was very openly Christian, which is hardly surprising as the Copts make up nine out of fifty seven million of the population.
I also find the argument that if you can’t wear a cross in Mecca then you can’t wear a Hijab in Leicester to be childish. Saudi Arabia is a long way away, why continually compare us to a country that bears little resemblance to use. What is so wrong with being able to say that we like the fact that we are more tolerant of other cultures than some of our neighbours, otherwise everything spirals down to the lowest common denominator. So if we have broken down the argument that being religious is hardly a requirement for being British, apologies for the one in sixty but you know what I mean, and that religious and cultural interaction have brought some useful advances to this country and that we like the idea that we are free to dress how we like. Where do we go now? Although I don’t see it as even remotely related as others have covered the following point with great passion, if not eloquence, we should proceed to the whole security issue.
Take cover, that woman is wearing a veil, she might explode.
The so called “war on terror” is being used as a lever for any policy the government wants to enforce, such as security cards and arming the police, when the real reason for its efforts is actually because war makes money, especially if you have shares in Haliburton and Abram’s, makers of the US number one battle tank (Bush, Cheney etc). In the wake of 9/11 and the London Bombings the whole Muslim identity has been put under the microscope, but how representative of the Muslim faith were the perpetrators. Well probably about as representative as the IRA are of the Catholic Church. Just because a group with a grudge against western foreign policy happen to be Muslims does that mean that they are pursuing a religious cause, of course not. We don’t call Basque separatists Christian Fanatics so why do we assume that Middle Eastern anarchists are acting out of religious fervour. Its just easier to believe that there is a religious crusades taking place, after all George Bush thinks so, and remember the man with his finger on the button is a fundamentalist himself, he believes in Adam and Eve and the world being 6000 years old, but he’s our deluded psycho killer so that’s alright I guess. Are veiled women any more of a security risk that anyone else. Well no veiled women ever dropped a bomb on Japan, no veiled women ever invaded another country against strong public and legal opinion, no veiled women ever shot Kennedy, okay a bit flippant but to be honest if you are going to commit a crime wearing a floor length burka and head scarf is hardly inconspicuous. Terrorism has always been in existence, when the Tartars first fired heads of dead soldiers over the walls of the Black Sea ports, when the Mongols made an example of a city through total annihilation, that was terrorism, its always been there and I suspect nobody was saying “ban the wearing of veils and everything will be alright” So what are we left with, an irrational media frenzy to sell papers, well the Daily Jackboot…err…Mail at least and a few small class room incidents that would had have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t Muslim women at the centre. In six months time it will all have blown over, the Labour Party will be worrying about the change of leadership, the Tories will be worried about their continues non-electability and Bush will still be kicking the crap out of the Middle East, and all eyes will be on I’m a Celebrity or some such drivel and we can all forget this was ever an issue. Mind you if they ever strike oil in Bradford!!!
Summary: there is no real problem here, just sensationalism