An evil slur

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has some sharp (in both senses) things to say about the burqa and laws relating to it and the hijab.

As always, the British power elite casts itself – unconsciously perhaps – as more tolerant and enlightened than its European counterparts…
We have a history of self-righteousness in these intra-continental culture wars. The veil once more gives us a chance to show off our liberal credentials and show up our more bigoted neighbours, whose anti-Muslim attitudes are indeed uglier…

But defending the right to wear the burqa isn’t really the ideal way to show off one’s liberal credentials.

What of the fact that millions of us are against the black covering? And that many supported the French school-uniform proscription? We know there is no Koranic injunction to cover the face, and we watch helplessly as organised brainwashing is leading to the blanking out of female Muslim presence and individuality from the public space. The Oxford theologian and imam Dr Taj Hargey can give you chapter and verse to prove both these points. We say that dress codes can be imposed in public-service interactions for a greater good. That whether opted for by the woman or pushed on her by others, the inherent message of the veiled woman is that femininity is treacherous – which is an evil slur.

Too many defenders of the right to wear the burqa – not all, but too many – fail to deal with the evil slur aspect. Too many defenders treat the matter as unambiguous, easy, a slam dunk. They need to keep the evil slur firmly in mind.

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