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Anorak | UKIP’s sad plan to ban the burqa makes Muslim women society’s punks

UKIP’s sad plan to ban the burqa makes Muslim women society’s punks

by | 25th, April 2017

UKIP wants to ban the burqa. When you ban things, you become a bansturbator. Paul Nuttall, who’d look good is a tweed burqa, tells the electorate via the Andrew Marr Show: “[Firstly] we have a heightened security risk at the moment and for CCTV to be effective you need to see people’s faces. Secondly, there’s the issue of integration. I don’t believe you can integrate fully and enjoy the fruits of British society if you can’t see people’s faces.”

The spread of CCTV is an affront to human dignity an privacy. The Labour Party’s architectural legacy is to have cameras on every street corner. Less of that, please. They talk of society and caring for one another and then pebbledash the streets with cameras to observe us all.

 

UKIP burqa ban

 

As for the British way. Well, wearing what you like is the British way. Telling someone what they cannot wear is not stretching their and our freedom. Making an outfit a criminal offence is the stuff of bigots, prudes and censors. Any punks out there looking to upset the olds and the stiffs with their clothing know what do: get a burqa and glam it up with a few studs, pins and outré symbols.

Ella Whelan notes:

In calling for a burqa ban, UKIP is actually disempowering the potential agents of change; namely, women. Banning women from making personal decisions about dress is never going to wash as a step towards gender equality because it assumes women are incapable of changing things for themselves.

UKIP’s idea is that woman ought to be saved even against their will. UKIP will decide what is acceptable attire. And this from Nuttall, a man who in his bid to look like a member of the Establishment dresses in itchy tweeds, as Hugo Rifkind quipps, like a “skinhead Rupert Bear”.

As for freedom, well, Christopher Hitchens likened the burqa to a KKK hood. Although I’ve not seen many burqa-clad women lynching people. He wrote:

Let me ask a simple question to the pseudoliberals who take a soft line on the veil and the burqa. What about the Ku Klux Klan? Notorious for its hooded style and its reactionary history, this gang is and always was dedicated to upholding Protestant and Anglo-Saxon purity. I do not deny the right of the KKK to take this faith-based view, which is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I might even go so far as to say that, at a rally protected by police, they could lawfully hide their nasty faces. But I am not going to have a hooded man or woman teach my children, or push their way into the bank ahead of me, or drive my taxi or bus, and there will never be a law that says I have to.

Shikha Dalmia responded:

Burqas are certainly a tool of female oppression in Islamic theocracies where sharia law sanctions violence against women who violate its strictures. But that is not true in liberal democracies where the reason government exists is to protect personal choices from physical violence. When women wear burqas despite such protection, it has to be assumed that they are doing so of their own free will. This doesn’t mean that all Muslim women affirmatively embrace burqas–although no doubt some do. But it does mean that their emotional ties with their communities and families are, on balance, stronger than their distaste for the burqa and hence they’d rather wear it than face rejection.

Despite years of sectarian bloodletting, if Indians still intuitively understand this and take a benign view of the burqa, it is hardly because they are inherently more rational. It is because their secularism has been shaped by India’s dominant religion–Hinduism–whose non-monotheistic ethos allows the space for multiple faiths. In this sense, Hinduism is perhaps more profoundly in sync with liberal tolerance than monotheistic faiths.

More crucially, however, there is nothing in Hinduism that makes an individual’s spiritual salvation anyone’s business except the individual herself. By contrast, Hitchens, et al, who have been raised in the cradle of a Christian civilization, have imbibed a certain comfort level with the crusading notion that people can–and ought to–be saved even against their will. Hence, it does not matter if Muslim women don’t regard the burqa as oppressive. They have to be given sartorial liberation in the same way that the heathens need to be given spiritual liberation.

It’s not them. It’s us. Confront your prejudices and carry on.

The last word is from Graeme Wood:

The students were fifteen females in full niqab. When I entered the classroom and saw fifteen students who looked identical in every way, I burst out laughing, and never totally regained composure. The utter neutrality of their aspect was disarming to say the least. After a few minutes, I started asking them questions in English about their lives and why they wanted to learn English. “I am a pharmacist!” chirped one of the bolder students, so I turned to look through her eyeslit and ask whether she thought Yemeni honey had medicinal properties. Instantly fourteen black-gloved hands shot out to point at one of the other women in the room: I was talking to the wrong student, six desks away. This drill happened about twenty more times in the next hour, and even though my sonar triangulation improved a little, even by the end I could narrow down blurted answers at best to a clump of five or so students. I ended up accidentally excusing women with no cars to check on their parking, and letting women with empty bladders go to the lavatory. In every case the errors lasted only seconds, but the experience was still totally bewildering.

So the garments did seem to have some serious pedagogical drawbacks. On the other hand, every wearer of burqa and niqab I have asked has viewed the garment as a blessing: a liberation not so much from the stares of men as from the stares of anyone at all. It freed them from caring about their appearance. They didn’t have to do their hair. (Of course, since fashion abhors a vacuum, and when women’s clothes are made forcibly subdued, they find ways to mark style by decorating the fringes of their abayas, say, or by paying heavy attention to eye make-up.) They could count money in public. They didn’t get covered with filth, as I did, standing around waiting for the bus, and they could check me out and stare at me without risking the awkwardness of my staring back. No doubt there are women whose burqas are compulsory, but I have not met them.

If UKIP has their way we won’t meet them at all.



Posted: 25th, April 2017 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink