Tuesday, 27 July 2010

More on the veil....

Saira KhanThought I'd save this article in its entirety below, just in case it disappears on the newspaper's site....
And it's also further to my post on the issue here.  (which, btw, led to another of my letters to SCMP being published, two on Islam in two weeks; I wonder what's going on at the Post?)
"Why I, as a British Muslim woman, want the burkha banned from our streets"
By Saira Khan
Last updated at 8:40 AM on 24th June 2009
Shopping in Harrods last week, I came across a group of women wearing black burkhas, browsing the latest designs in the fashion department.
The irony of the situation was almost laughable. Here was a group of affluent women window shopping for designs that they would never once be able to wear in public.Yet it's a sight that's becoming more and more commonplace. In hardline Muslim communities right across Britain, the burkha and hijab - the Muslim headscarf - are becoming the norm.
Is it time to ban the burkha from being worn in the streets of Britain?

Saira Khan, runner up in the first series of The Apprentice, believes the burkha is an oppressive tool and says it is time to ban it from the streets of Britain
In the predominantly Muslim enclaves of Derby near my childhood home, you now see women hidden behind the full-length robe, their faces completely shielded from view. In London, I see an increasing number of young girls, aged four and five, being made to wear the hijab to school.
Shockingly, the Dickensian bone disease rickets has reemerged in the British Muslim community because women are not getting enough vital vitamin D from sunlight because they are being consigned to life under a shroud.
Thanks to fundamentalist Muslims and 'hate' preachers working in Britain, the veiling of women is suddenly all-pervasive and promoted as a basic religious right. We are led to believe that we must live with this in the name of 'tolerance'.
'The veil is a tool of oppression used to alienate and control women under the guise of religious freedom'
And yet, as a British Muslim woman, I abhor the practice and am calling on the Government to follow the lead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and ban the burkha in our country.
The veil is simply a tool of oppression which is being used to alienate and control women under the guise of religious freedom.
My parents moved here from Kashmir in the 1960s. They brought with them their faith and their traditions - but they also understood that they were starting a new life in a country where Islam was not the main religion.
My mother has always worn traditional Kashmiri clothes - the salwar kameez, a long tunic worn over trousers, and the chador, which is like a pashmina worn around the neck or over the hair.
When she found work in England, she adapted her dress without making a fuss. She is still very much a traditional Muslim woman, but she swims in a normal swimming costume and jogs in a tracksuit.
I was born in this country, and my parents' greatest desire for me was that I would integrate and take advantage of the British education system.
East meets West: A pair of women walk down the high street in Birmingham in full Muslim dress
They wanted me to make friends at school, and be able to take part in PE lessons - not feel alienated and cut off from my peers. So at home, I wore the salwar kameez, while at school I wore a wore a typical English school uniform.
Now, to some fundamentalists, that made us not proper Muslims. Really?
I have read the Koran. Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a woman's face and body must be covered in a layer of heavy black cloth. Instead, Muslim women should dress modestly, covering their arms and legs.
Many of my adult British Muslim friends cover their heads with a headscarf - and I have no problem with that.
The burkha is an entirely different matter. It is an imported Saudi Arabian tradition, and the growing number of women veiling their faces in Britain is a sign of creeping radicalisation, which is not just regressive, it is oppressive and downright dangerous.
The burkha is an extreme practice. It is never right for a woman to hide behind a veil and shut herself off from people in the community. But it is particularly wrong in Britain, where it is alien to the mainstream culture for someone to walk around wearing a mask.
'Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a woman's face and body must be covered in a layer of heavy black cloth'
The veil restricts women. It stops them achieving their full potential in all areas of their life, and it stops them communicating. It sends out a clear message: 'I do not want to be part of your society.'
Every time the burkha is debated, Muslim fundamentalists bring out all these women who say: 'It's my choice to wear this.'
Perhaps so - but what pressures have been brought to bear on them? The reality, surely, is that a lot of women are not free to choose.
Girls as young as four are wearing the hijab to school: that is not a freely made choice. It stops them taking part in education and reaching their potential, and the idea that tiny children need to protect their modesty is abhorrent.
And behind the closed doors of some Muslim houses, countless young women are told to wear the hijaband the veil. These are the girls who are hidden away, they are not allowed to go to university or choose who they marry. In many cases, they are kept down by the threat of violence.
The burkha is the ultimate visual symbol of female oppression. It is the weapon of radical Muslim men who want to see Sharia law on Britain's streets, and would love women to be hidden, unseen and unheard. It is totally out of place in a civilised country.
Precisely because it is impossible to distinguish between the woman who is choosing to wear a burkha and the girl who has been forced to cover herself and live behind a veil, I believe it should be banned. 
Nicolas Sarkozy
French President Sarkozy has backed moves to outlaw burkhas in France
President Sarkozy is absolutely right to say: 'If you want to live here, live like us.'
He went on to say that the burkha is not a religious sign, 'it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement... In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.'
So what should we do in Britain? For decades, Muslim fundamentalists, using the human rights laws, have been allowed to get their own way.
It is time for ministers and ordinary British Muslims to say, 'Enough is enough'. For the sake of women and children, the Government must ban the wearing of the hijab in school and the burkha in public places.
To do so is not racist, as extremists would have us believe. After all, when I go to Pakistan or Middle Eastern countries, I respect the way they live.
Two years ago, I wore a burkha for the first time for a television programme. It was the most horrid experience. It restricted the way I walked, what I saw, and how I interacted with the world.
It took away my personality. I felt alienated and like a freak. It was hot and uncomfortable, and I was unable to see behind me, exchange a smile with people, or shake hands.
If I had been forced to wear a veil, I would certainly not be free to write this article. Nor would I have run a marathon, become an aerobics teacher or set up a business.
We must unite against the radical Muslim men who love to control women.
My message to those Muslims who want to live in a Talibanised society, and turn their face against Britain, is this: 'If you don't like living here and don't want to integrate, then what the hell are you doing here? Why don't you just go and live in an Islamic country?'

Salman - Britian isn't mutlicultural, its DIVIDED! Thats the point this article is making.
Click to rate     Rating   664
~Well done! Yes, ban the Burkha. Good old Sarkozy. You can't help but admire the French who really get things done, not like us feeble lot who allow the rest of the world to walk all over us.
Click to rate     Rating   918
I don't wear a burqa & I don't cover my hair but I am a muslim.I am also a human being who doesn't judge others over the way they dress talk or live their lives.There are women who actually want to cover for whatever reason & I do not have a problem with that-If they have the confidence to do so then who am I to stop them.Why shoudl it be banned-we can't force people to dress or not dress the way they want to.If I saw a person who wanted to walk around naked, I might feel awkward but I wouldn't tell them to dress just because it would make me feel comfortable.My 2 year old is scared of beards should they be banned?Some people feel apprehensive when they see goths or punks shall we ban them?
Saira khan -There are probably alot of choices in life that you have made for yourself which others may not agree with -would you have stopped to keep others satisfied?, would you not be dissapointed if everybody expected you to shut up &agree with what others want?
Click to rate     Rating   750
Near where i live in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, we have a lot of compounds that are off-limits to the Saudi religious police. Here, ex-patriot women strut about in Bikinis. Yet at the same time, there are others who choose to wear the veil. No one makes them. Their husbands are out working all day and they can wear what they want but they CHOOSE the veil and burkha, so let them.

The level of liberty in a country is not gauged by how little clothing the women wear.
Click to rate     Rating   681
Why ban it?

If it bothers you that thats your problem. If someone wants to wear it thats their decision.

You are giving out about peoples rights and then expect to restrict them in their choice of clothing?
Click to rate     Rating   644
There is a bigger issue at stake here and that is the misinterpretation of the essence of Islam. In Islam, Burka is not compulsory! Compulsory is modesty in dress and behaviour for BOTH men and women. Furthermore, seeking knowledge, education and freedom from opression is the fundamental basis of the teachings of Islam. Islam is not the cause for the repression of thousands of Muslim women all over the world. It is the wrong interpretation of Islam by the males in their family and other fundamentalist.
Burka comes from the middle east where it actually very useful in the bright sunlight and heat! It helps keep the body cool and prevents dehydration.
I am a muslim woman who does not wear burka or the hijab. But I've always thought that the decision should be left to the women themselves instead of forcing it on them. And burka on a four year old is totally ridiculous! Let the child be a child instead of masquerading as a woman.
Click to rate     Rating   831
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