The use of the face veil is quite possibly one of the most depressing sights (Independent, Tuesday 17th Sept 2013). The face veil symbolises the very essence of female subservience to the chauvinistic culture of monotheism.
Of course, in a liberal democracy the choice of headwear is a free choice for individuals. However, the principle of democracy rests on open and free dialogue between informed citizenry. To what extent can a choice truly be free and informed, if it is based on cruel familial and cultural pressure, enacted often against will and with force.
There are, however, rules and expectations placed upon citizens, such as participation in open Court and security protocols. These requirements necessitate an open face, and there should not be any religious or cultural opt-outs available.
Current responses to anxiety around face veils seems to be, unhelpfully, polarised. To cultural reactionaries and right-wing propagandists, the face veil represents a fear of the future, a loss of values and identities. The political left seems to have chosen to either remain mute, or attempt a vague and sinister form of cultural relativism.
To ban any form of dress, let alone that which is deemed to be ‘religious attire’, would be deeply controversial, and probably counter-productive. Nothing swells the massive ranks of support like a well-played victim card.
Religiously segregated schools have contributed to Scotland’s shameful problem with sectarianism, it seems that face veils are another (semi-elective) form of the same segregation.
Birmingham College was right in taking its decisive action to ensure that all students are able to be open and visible, this is a solid bedrock from which cultural and religious understanding can flourish. Let alone a necessity for security.
However, in a shameful and embarrassing climb-down, the college has now withdrawn from its principles of equality in favour of appeasing the cultural relativists. Yet again we see the defeat of reason and logic at the hands of sinister religious threats.
Shared spaces of learning and information exchange are not the place to continue a bizarre experiment in religious segregation.
Jeremy Browne MP is wrong in his approach (Guardian 16 Sept 2013), there is no need for a ‘debate’ on veil wearing. The arbitrary discrimination towards women is wrong, no such debate can do anything but affirm it. Also, if women are so disenfranchised, how well does Mr Browne think they will be able to engage in such a debate?
Mr Browne is at least right about one thing, to attempt to ban items of clothing, would be to cede the principle of freedom.
The correct way to approach this divisive issue, is to build support and consensus for pro-social shared values. The war against the veil will be won by attrition and compassion, not by divisive politicking.
The face veil is a disgusting throw-back to a primitive attempt to subjectify women. It manages to simultaneously insult men, who are portrayed as lacking any will-power whatsoever, and teetering on the point of rape at any moment.
The reason it provokes so much ill-feeling perhaps, is because of the willingness of its subjects to cast themselves into the social and cultural chains that it represents, similar to the morose, and now thankfully out-dated Indian practice of Sati. As Richard Matheson said, it is the deepest curse of the flagellant, to grow inured even to the whip.
As to wither or not the face veil should be band in public spaces; sadly in many Islamic countries, women are missing altogether from the public space. Therefore, I think that any further such move could be very damaging for our society.
We should pity and show compassion to our citizens behind the veil. The cost of social segregation is high, and criminalisation can only add to this.