« Part 1 as mp3 | Main | What a result »

Friday, October 06, 2006


Glenn Innes

Excellent post Brodie. I think the issue is much deeper than simply clothing. Mr Straw, who is far from my favourite politician, raises a question far more important than the issue of dress. In reality he is asking the question "What kind of community do we wich to have in the reality of a multi-cultural 21st Century?"

What you say about the eyes is true, and particularly so of Eastern cultures, but British (and more generally western) western culture has always meant face to face as that. Not that wither position should be defended bombastically but rather a discussion need to be had.

On top of this the current climate of Islamaphobia and all encompassing fear of one another means that this conversation is well nigh impossible as long as the press is committed to juicy headlines, and while both sides hold on to things in such a way that change is impossible and to suggest change is to invite accusations of racism, nationalism etc. However if we are to progress as a society and even more so if we are once again to become a community then we need to have these difficult conversations. For broaching that subject I applaud Mr Straw.

On the other hand, asking a woman to unveil herself because he was uncomfortable in a situation where he was most certainly the powerful person in the relationship seems to be an act of oppression on his part.

So a "well done" and a slap on the wrist to Mr Straw.


I applaud the considered, sensitive and courteous way he's made his views known as a way of stimulating debate. I don't think it will work, but I applaud the effort. I agree that because it's so difficult to have a reasoned debate on islamic issues most people don't say anything and that has to change.

I disagree that his request is an "act of oppression" though. It's not about being the powerful person in the relationship, it's the fact that there is difficulty in building any kind of meaningful relationship at all when you don't know who you're talking to. There is no coercion involved in asking for the veil to be removed. It's a polite request, and if the woman does not wish to comply then that decision is respected. If that's an "act of oppression" then I'm Gheghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Vlad the Impaler all rolled into one. Let's get some perspective on this please.


Was this comment not cleverly made at this point in time to ensure some media attention as he makes a bid for Deputy leader? (hey - and for once its not Tony and Gordon getting all the press)

Does he really feel so strongly about this issue or am I just far too cynical?


Thanks one and all for your comments. I'm normally the cynical one Lynn, so yes I think you are being too cynical. This is such a sensitive area that it's on of those topics that could, and perhaps has, backfire on any potential deputy leader. That is unless a quality looked for in the deputy leader is the ability to put one's foot in one's mouth!

I think that one of the things that make this debate so difficult is that as far as I'm aware there are no comparisons with other religions. While followers of other religions would were distinctive clothing, a Sikh wearing a turban is an obvious example, this does not "hide" his face. It is however a symbol of otherness and perhaps separation.

So what is the real issue for Jack? Symbols of otherness and separation, or not being able to see someone's face?

Community does not need confornity, indeed I do not think you can have authentic community if there is a forced conformity.


wow! Me more cynical than you!?!? There's a first :-)

Better watch, you'll be using words like "comfy" next



... good and thoughtful post- thanks for this


Interesting thought on cimmunity Brodie. I agree that community does not need conformity, indeed like you I would suspect that homogenous community is severly lascking something.

However community must be built around something, a shared goal or understanding, a common approach to the world, a sense of history or whatever. I think that this is the discussion that is required. How is community to be built in 21st Century UK. What is our common goal or outlook?

Without answering this question of what it means to be British any discussion about veils or turbans or even kilts for that matter as symbols of parallel communities is one without any true substance.

The comments to this entry are closed.