This obsession with the Islamic “veil” gets more absurd by the day. I had no intention of posting more about it so soon, but now a Tunisian woman has been fined in Italy for wearing a full veil – niqab – as she walked to the mosque. Belgium passed a no-niqab law last week, and France is about to do the same even though fewer than 2,000 Frenchwomen wear the damn thing . And my brother let loose on the phone from England last night, shouting at me that every leading French feminist was against the niqab, that it was all part of France’s concern for separation of church and state, and that besides it was essential for security to be able to see people’s faces.
My brother the political cynic arguing for natonal security by lecturing me on feminism? What kind of brave new world is this?
My feminist credentials are impeccable — infinitely better than those of all the male European politicians busy yammering on about women’s dignity, let alone my brother’s. And I’ve been at it long enough to know when my feminism is being manipulated.
Of course I’m not “for” the veil. I hate the idea of it. But for European governments to legislate against it? How exactly is this different from the Taliban legislating for it?
Good minds are being driven over the edge by the veil. Just try reading this op-ed piece, a convoluted argument which appears to be that the essence of civil society is being able to see the whites of someone’s eyes. Not so long ago, soldiers were ordered not to shoot until they could see those same whites of the eyes…
Do niqab-wearing women choose it or are they being coerced? Nobody really knows, though we do know that banning it takes away all element of choice. But then despite all the high-falutin’ talk about women’s dignity, that’s not really the issue. The real issue is fear of Islamic extremism, and the veil as a convenient symbol of presumed extremism. And women are just pawns in this game, being used by liberal secular authorities no less than by conservative Muslim ones.