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ISLAM - niqab

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

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.

Every time the burkha is debated, Muslim fundamentalists bring out all these women who say: 'It's my choice to wear this.'

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.

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.

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?'

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Vote: Should the niqab be banned?

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Members Comments

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RtHonRighteous 18-Jun-2010 10:4
If Islam feels a woman's ornaments should not be on show, although this does not appear in any Islamic texts, then both sexes should be subjected to covering. It's a shameful and quite backward practice that a woman should cover for the desires of men. British culture is that relies on seeing people's faces and that is how it should stay. Banning the Bhurka would only alienate Muslims and so this should come from the Islamic Heads and not from the British government.
stuartac 28-Jun-2009 15:11
It should not be a case of banning the niqab, it should be a case of individual expression and freedom of choice. The law should protect those who wish to be free from oppression and any form of slavery.

The only reason that the niqab was made the code of Islamic female dress was because the male could not control his sexual urges or be trusted. To punish all of one sex because of the inadequacies of the other is extreme to say the least. If Islam had anything going for it, it would protect the innocent and weaker individuals.

I thought that in the Koran that women were the equal of men? But the males have taken it upon themselves to be superior through 'scholarly' thought and re-interpreting the text.

To force something on a group is very unsafe, for even the worm will turn. We need individual expression and thought. Its very enriching for society, and creates diversity. We do not all want to be cast from the same mould, otherwise it will get boring. We don't look the same so why should we think the same??

We all have inalienable rights of freedom, life, truth and love. Where is the Muslims love? [And for that matter the Christians]. Too many people have died because someone has decreed that God has created a law and they have broken that law.
Andromeda 28-Jun-2009 11:44
Lee Southend, I believe you would ban the practice of Islam if you could.

"Religious intolerance" sounds rather like thoughtcrime.

How would you like the criminalising of "racial intolerance", Lee?

What is this "blood sacrifice" that Muslims practise you refer to?

If you mean halal slaughter, then it means you would have to ban kosher slaughter too. No doubt the Jews will have something to say about this.

As for "sexual apartheid" you could mean the segregation of sexes, which I know I would prefer in changing rooms, toilets, hospital wards and secondary schools.

I quite accept that some women have a fetish about the niqab and would feel naked without it. But should the state be so indulgent of feminine neuroses?

In my opinion, it should be banned for the protection of these neurotic women and the humane and liberal religion they have distorted and made ugly and oppressive through their perverted practices.
JusticeSeeker 28-Jun-2009 11:40
I am concerned for the long term health of girls and women wearing the burkha. Too many women suffer from osteoporosis, as they get older. Their bones become brittle and break very easily. Prevention is by taking Vitamin D, margarine fish oils etc. However the major source of vitamin D is sunlight. About 15-20 minutes of sunlight a day on the face and arms during the summer months, is enough for the body to store the rest of the year. Osteoporosis is also caused by lack of weightbearing exercise such as walking running and sport. Muslim women already have a higher rate of osteoporosis, than the average. So I vote the Burkha should be banned for health reasons, i don't want the N.H.S. and taxpayers to pay because of mistaken ideas about female dress codes.
indian 28-Jun-2009 11:3
This form of dress is man made, and has no religious history in Islam. Set that aside, and consider that the wearing of any mask, or crash helmet, in public places makes identification very difficult. God gave us individual characteristics to allow our identification by fellow humans, for that reason alone should the niqab and its derivitives be banned in public places.
LeeSouthend 28-Jun-2009 8:30
Well dah of course the niqab should be banned along with all the backward trappings of islam.

Like the religious intolerance, Blood sacrifice and Sexual apartheid.

When muslims can behave like civilized people then perhaps we can let them live with civilized people.
jeffreymarshall 27-Jun-2009 19:17
No, the niqab should not be banned.

In the East End of London, where I live, it is the very height of fashion and extremely popular with the locals.

Like so many commentators, Saira Khan falls into the trap of believing she knows the true reasons why others choose to wear the clothes they do.

To Khan, the burkha is 'the ultimate visual symbol of female oppression'.

However if this were really so it would mean that the many young Muslim women who choose to wear this garment have actually been forced to - whereas in fact I would guess that none of them have.

Moreover the French - whom Khan suggests we emulate - rejoice in an authoritarian tradition of secularism in the public realm, which was imposed on them at the time of the French Revolution.

In Britain we have no such tradition and allow people to dress according to their religious beliefs.

If Khan dislikes wearing the garment herself, this should not mean she can dictate what others wear.

Andromeda suggests that none of us should be permitted to wear masks in a public place.

I do agree that such a ruling might well apply in shops and malls & the like, but this can safely be left to the owners of such precincts.

What I find disagreeable in her argument is the idea that we should all appear in a camera-ready condition in order to be spied on by CCTV, which many of us are somewhat opposed to in any case.

If I, or some liberated young Muslim lady, choose to veil ourselves in public - with only our charmingly made-up eyes or our distinctive spectacles to identify us - then that is entirely our business.

It is certainly no business of the state.
Andromeda 8-Mar-2009 14:45
If non-Muslims are not allowed to go around with a mask then Muslims should not be allowed to go around with their faces hidden. Stories of male criminals disguised as women in burqas are not unknown.
dignitas 17-Oct-2008 21:27
the freedom to express yourself and your beliefs is a part of our democratic culture banning anyone from doing so is dangerous. It must be remembered that this is a separate issue to that of introducing sharia law or segregating schools. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" every action can have a deeper impact. Banning ANYTHING is not necessarily the perfect answer.
Recyclotron 25-Mar-2008 17:42
Although I find "Islamic" dress which obscures the face disturbing, I would not go so far as to ban it. Indeed I understand that it is not actually "Islamic" but rooted in desert culture for pragmatic reasons. It is as religious as a ruff is to an Anglican. If the niquab were to be banned, then all religious dress should be banned, which is the line the French have taken. That would be sad as my church (FSM) promotes the wearing of pirate costume. See www.venganza.org
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