Houzan Mahmoud

Houzan Mahmoud says it clearly enough.

The veil is not merely a piece of “cloth”, but a sign of the oppression of women, control over their sexuality, submissiveness to the will of God or a man. The veil is a banner of political Islam used to segregate women born by historical accident in the so-called “Islamic World” from other women in the rest of the world.

She’s surprised to find herself agreeing with Jack Straw, but also thinks he’s a bit late.

Jack Straw’s government has always been proud of its “multicultural society”, in which all kinds of backward and anti-human cultures are respected and given space by the state. Women from an Islamic background will be among the most oppressed…More than ever I hear many women claiming that wearing the veil, burqa or niqab is their own choice. I totally reject this view. Not wearing the veil can create harsh problems for women – if it doesn’t cost them their life, as in Iraq, it can cost them long-term isolation from their community…The policies of cultural relativism have claimed the lives of many women in the UK, with their killers not properly brought to justice because “culture” and “religion” are taken into account by the courts. Women’s rights are universal…Imagine if a girl has been told to wear the veil from as early as four or five years old, where is the choice in this?…I understand why girls would veil, but I cannot see it as anything other than a solitary confinement prison.

It’s not just a piece of cloth, she says, it’s a political statement, ‘the banner of a political movement, political Islam, in the Middle East, Europe and worldwide. We must take a firm stand against this by demanding secular laws, secular education and equality for all.’ Count me in.

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