Friday, October 06, 2006

Straw Veils

Jack Straw (if you don't know: he's an English MP) has stirred up some controversy by expressing his dislike of veils as worn by your more traditional sort of muslim lady (see Reuters). This has already had some come back for him (see Voice of Reason). Personally, I think that if Mr Straw doesn't like veils then he should not be made to wear one.

I listened to a programme on the radio whilst driving to work a few weeks ago, it was about the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979; one of the interviewees observed that prior to the revolution, her mother rarely left the house because she felt unable to go out without a veil (which the Shah had banned); after the revolution, her mother, and the many other traditionally minded women in Iran, suddenly had access to public space again.

So, whilst I agree that the wearing of full-facial veils does create a barrier (and that is part of the point of them), I do wonder if a move to stop people wearing them will, rather than opening up communication between groups, actually stifle communication as women feel they are no longer able to come out in public.

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