The Koran says that women should dress modestly and for many Muslims a headscarf (hijab) is seen as adequate to fulfil this rule. However, a minority of (male) Islamic scholars teach that a woman should be completely covered from head to foot, with only her eyes visible through a narrow slit in a garment called the niqab or with even her eyes covered – the burqa. The thinking behind this is that only a close male relative or husband has the right to see a woman’s face. There are implications that women are property to be controlled by men, that those who are not fully veiled are in some way indicating sexual availability, and that men may then find it difficult to resist making sexual advances towards uncovered women.
In my opinion, this mind-set is completely alien to the British way of life and has no place in a modern liberal democracy with a right to freedom of expression. However, burqas are becoming an increasingly common sight in some parts of the UK. We should be allowed to debate what this means and urging communities and organisations like the Muslim Council for Britain to discourage wearing the burqa in the UK. Yet instead of showing leadership on an issue which is fundamental for women’s rights, they have been angrily denouncing recent comments by Boris Johnson.
In taking up this battle, the Muslim Council for Britain is failing millions of liberal Muslims who share the general view that wearing a burqa is completely at odds with the values we take for granted in a liberal 21st century democracy.
As we approach the end of EU membership, EU remoaners are ramping up the doom-mongering to new heights of hysteria. Without stopping to think about the obvious contradictions, we are told that Brexit is going to mean mass unemployment and also a huge shortage of people to fill the jobs which are available. Brexit clearly cannot do both of these things simultaneously. We read that Brexit will mean food shortages, higher food prices and we will be deluged with vast amounts of cheap food from the US and elsewhere! Once again – it is not possible for both to happen. Similar contradictions abound – rising prices, falling house prices, end manufacturing but increases in CO2 emissions and so on. I haven’t yet read that Brexit will lead to an invasion of zombies but it is surely only a matter of time.
*Published in the South Wales Argus on 21 August 2018*