UK: More on the veil controversy

Phil Woolas, Minister for Race and Equalities in the UK, has come out in support of Straw and his criticism of the Muslim veil.

Muslim women who wear a veil have every right to do so. But they must realise that other people who don't understand the culture can find it frightening and intimidating.

Of course, we expect non-Muslim people to be understanding of Asians and their culture. But that has to work both ways. Muslims must also be understanding of others too.

While people are free to do what they want, they must realise that their actions often have an impact on others.

Doesn't this sound like common sense?

Islam Online sees this as an attack on the veil.

Abeer Pharaon, the ex-chair and incumbent member of the London-based Assembly for the Protection of Hijab (Protect Hijab), took an issue with the argument.

"This is completely false," she told over the phone from London.

"It is the choice of a woman to take on the niqab, which is not a way to threat or attack the other.

"The niqab does not relate to the other but to myself," added Pharaon, who herself does not wear a face cover.

The Muslim activist also question Straw's argument that face cover prevents interaction with the other.

"I myself believe that facial expression are important, but the heart of the face is the eyes," she said.

I wonder what she would say about the burka which covers the eyes as well. Or what she would say if she would watch a TV show where all characters were wearing a black burka with only their eyes revealed. I'm sure it would be an Emmy winner.

More importantly - Pharaon is refusing to face reality. By wearing a veil she is making a statement. Just as she would be making a statement by wearing a suit, or jeans, or any other piece of clothing.

Islam Online has another article about the veil: Why I Wear the Muslim Headscarf by Aaminah Hernandez. A convert to Islam, why does Hernandez wear a veil? One of the reasons is because it makes her noticeably different and announces that she is a Muslim. It is interesting that she mentions, though, that when she became Muslim, her veil actually made her less noticeable, having lived in a town with a large Muslim population.

It is her right to be noticeably different. But she should also take into account that this is exactly what she's doing. She's making a statement and associating herself with a specific group which has specific ideals and specific goals. She should not be surprised if society gets the message.

Source: Islam Online (English), Sunday Mirror (English)

See also: UK: Straw "unveiling his views"

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