22 February 2007

Islam: Veiled in Controversy

Zilla Huma Usman (credit: www.digitaljournal.com)
Zilla Huma Usman,
shot dead Tuesday
The debate sparked last year by Jack Straw about the wearing of veils in public by Muslim women continues to rage. In the latest episode of this ongoing saga, the High Court has rejected demands brought by a 12-year-old in Buckinghamshire that she be allowed to wear niqab, the full-face veil, during school lessons. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Zilla Huma Usman, Punjab's Minister for Social Welfare and a strong campaigner for women's rights, has been assassinated by a gunman for not wearing a Muslim veil.

At a time when the Muslim Council of Britain is calling for our schools to make concessions to Islamic cultural norms, we would be wise to heed the warning of Britain's most senior Muslim peer, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham:
“The face veil is a barrier to integration in the West. The veil is now a mark of separation, segregation and defiance against mainstream British culture. There’s nothing in the Koran to say that wearing a niqab is desirable, let alone compulsory. It’s purely cultural. It’s an identity thing which has been misinterpreted. They were supposed to be worn so that women wouldn’t be harassed. But women, and communities as a whole, are now being harassed because they are wearing them."