People in Tooting

Sadiq Khan said some interesting things about hijab last month.


Khan, who became the first Muslim cabinet minister in Gordon Brown’s government in 2009, warned of an “insidious” development if people thought it was right to treat women differently to men.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, the frontrunner in next month’s mayoral contest contrasted the way Muslim women dressed when he was growing up in London in the 1970s and 80s with the way many women dressed today.

Khan, 45, said: “When I was younger you didn’t see people in hijabs and niqabs, not even in Pakistan when I visited my family. In London we got on. People dressed the same. What you see now are people born and raised here who are choosing to wear the jilbab [a loose gown] or niqab.”

Anecdotal observation – I lived in London for a big chunk of 1977, and one of the other women in the house did wear a hijab when she went out. I once overheard her explaining (in the communal kitchen) that she wore it because the guy she was going to marry wanted her to. That’s a black swan – it’s not quite true that you didn’t see women in hijabs at all. But it is true that it was far from commonplace.

“There is a question to be asked about what is going on in those homes. What’s insidious is if people are starting to think it is appropriate to treat women differently or that it has been forced on them. What worries me is children being forced to adopt a lifestyle.”

Yes. Girls being forced to adopt a badge of inferiority, and boys being forced to adopt a contemptuous or disgust-ridden view of girls and women. It’s bad all around. It’s bad to teach children that girls and women are these weird gross special creatures that have to be covered up lest they rot or entice or swallow the world with their ravenous cunts.

He said he had been singled out by extremists – and been given police advice on protection – because of his liberal views, particularly on same-sex marriage. “There are people in Tooting who no longer talk to me because of it. When I was first elected I had all sorts of problems from these extremists. There was a fatwa put out against me. I’m the person with the plan in relation to fighting extremism.”

Mazel tov, London.

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