Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Veil Nonsense

I don’t get it. It seems everyone’s got their knickers in a twit because some women want to wear a veil that covers their body, head, face, whatever. Called a burqa or jilbab or hijab or niqab (I’ve never been clear what word to use), it’s all the same to me. Who cares?

But obviously a lot of people do care. A few days ago the French voted 336-1 to ban the things. They’re talking about a ban in Spain. The British say they won’t ban them. It is a lively subject of debate around the world.

A variation on the same theme is the controversy about young women wearing head scarves in Turkish universities. It’s a symbolic religious statement that offends our secular sensibilities – says the ban-the-scarves crowd. It is our right of religious expression – argues the other side. Again, who cares?

Look, I’m not a fan of burqas. Head scarves, I think, can be rather attractive. I’m reminded of watching lithesome young lovelies walking with their friends alongside the Sarawak River in the Malaysian city of Kuching. Tight jeans and head scarves go very well together.

While the ban-the-veils zealots will deny it, I don’t for a minute doubt that their position has a lot to do with an anti-Muslim bias. If you’ve been checking into this website even infrequently you’ll know that my patience level for all religions is zero. So this is not about religious expression for me. It’s about the freedom to wear whatever the hell you want to wear. Geez! What’s so hard to get about that?

I’m not blind to the possibility that some who might want to conceal themselves could be up to no good. Given the way the world is today, I’m willing to acknowledge the need to show one’s face for security or other legitimate identification purposes. That isn’t inconsistent with the right to wear veils in public as one goes about everyday life.

Finally, I’m aware of the argument that this is about women being repressed. Don’t I care if women are repressed? Ridiculous. Of course I care. But if you really want to deal with that issue I suggest you start by getting at the source of the problem, which has nothing to do with a long piece of black cloth.

Get real, people.


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