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"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The whole "veil" thing.

Short of Richard Dawkins, I'm the closest thing you'll find to a militant atheist. For me, if you believe in a god, you're one step down from someone with an imaginary friend. You are, in fact, talking to someone else's imaginary friend. While religion may often do good, my feeling is that it manages to do a lot more harm, and that we could get on perfectly well being civil to each other without the help of supposedly divine guidance. And I'm all for free speech. So you might find it a little strange that I find myself repulsed by the Labour party's recent obsession with ladies fashion amongst the more traditional sections of Muslim society. Particularly since, when the French government said essentially the same thing about veils and schools, I was right behind them. So why would I be against an open debate on the role of religion and secularism in society?

The simple reason is that this is not a debate. There are now well-meaning people who think they're having a debate about the issue, but they're sadly mistaken. It's one of a long series of harrangues by New Labour designed to retroactively bring about the whole "they hate our freedoms" paradigm that they've been using to justify their romps around the Middle East. In this respect it's very similar to the Bush "Iraq is NOW a major centre of terrorist activity" argument: New Labour has been shouting about Radical Islam and producing initiatives designed to combat it that are actually fanning the flames. I'm sure there are a lot of young Muslims out there who have their doubts about the good sense of dressing women up as ninjas, but, after this government's track record, raising this issue is just going to look like another way of saying there's something wrong with them.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Pete Irving said...

I was talking to triple A about this last week. He was telling me that the veil has been misidentified as a Muslim clothing item, it's not universally worn across the Muslim world, just in certain countries. Therefore it's a cultural marker, not a religious one - the intention of which is supposedly to avoid attracting attention to the woman wearing it. Obviously here in Britain the effect is now more than ever distinctly the opposite, so what is it actually for? If it had never been made an issue would have just faded out of use in Britain as it became apparently obsolete?

07 November, 2006 22:36  
Blogger Uncle Petie said...

Yeah, my feeling is that not many people on either side could give a shit about veils as such. It's just a convenient issue for people to do their polarizing around. I can't believe this was a million miles away from Jack Straw's mind when he said it.

11 November, 2006 19:15  

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