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Thursday, October 26, 2006

History and the "veil row"

Recently there has been significant controversy in Britain about Muslim women covering their faces. The most recent burst was sparked off by the case of classroom assistant who lost her job because the primary school children she was teaching couldn't understand her because of the veil she wore over all but her eyes.

There is probably a lot of misunderstanding on both sides of the argument I suspect. For example I see the wearing of a full veil as oppression of women, no doubt this impression was fueled by the Taleban in Afganistan. If I try and imagine someone forcing me to cover up to this extent I start to feel an upwelling of hatred and rage towards whoever that might be. Clearly a lot of this is cultural, I was born and bred in middle England and I wear what I want, within limits - different cultures have different limits.

I believe that a lot of women that do wear the veil see it in a very positive light. I'm happy to accept their view on that. However, as far as the classroom assistant row goes I side with the school - communication with young children requires the whole face, it's not just the words that are important but the facial expressions that go with them. As far as I understand it the veil wearing rules would have allowed her to do this anyway (provided there were no men in the room) and the school were happy to compromise and let her be veiled outside the classroom (the sensible part of me wonders why this even became an issue if there was a satisfactory solution........)

I could carry on at length and many people have I'm sure, I think a lot of it boils down to something more inherent than just a bit of cloth, so I was fascinated by the following article from the BBC (apologies to David if you still can't get BBC articles!)...

After a fashion

I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of the article (as Kav will tell you I know nothing about history!), but there are some very interesting parallels, make of it what you will........

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