Regurgitating prejudices against Muslim dress

25th Oct 2013

The media can once again be compared to vultures flying in circles around their prey, feeding on the morsels of a right-wing political agenda. This time regurgitating old fears about the traditional Islamic sense of dress and the alleged threat posed to British society and identity.

“The state school where girls are forced to wear hijabs in classrooms and outside school,” the Daily Mail falsely asserted, targeting Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School in Blackburn. “I think it threatens to create young British Muslims who are not able to integrate in the wider society, who are living in isolation and outside the wider community,” former government advisor on the prevention of terrorism, Haris Rafiq told the Sunday Times.

There have been many other instances including Birmingham Metropolitan College threatening a divisive ban on face veils (niqab), which was dropped after a protest petition attracted a staggering 8,000 signatures in just 48 hours. The hysterical onslaught, reminiscent of the controversy raised by former Home Secretary, Jack Straw, in 2007, has also encompassed the apparent dangers of beards after two 14-year old Muslim pupils were placed in “isolation” at Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School in Accrington, Lancashire. The disregard for beards was believed to be a thing of the past; in 1990s large number of Muslim boys were forced to shave their beard and suspended if they returned from Hajj with their heads shaven (an obligation on returning male hajjis [pilgrims]).

The Daily Telegraph referred to the beard issue as a Muslim “row,” but Head Teacher, Xavier Bowers, stressed that the matter is not one of religion but about the dress code. “I have spent quite a lot of time researching the issue and speaking to Muslim elders. There is nothing specifically written in the Qur’an about wearing a beard. It is a choice those boys are making. However inclusive we are, we have standards to maintain,” Bowers was quoted saying by the local Lancashire Telegraph.

The Muslim sense of dress has been under fire across Europe for over the past decade after France became the first country to ban the wearing of the hijab in schools in 1994 (see The Muslim News Issue No 66, September 23, 1994). In France as well as Belgium, the wearing of the full-face veil is now entirely banned. There have also been moves in other European countries to impose various restrictions against Muslims.

Whilst there is no ban on Islamic dress in the UK, schools are however allowed to forge their own dress code with apt consideration of various religions and their own necessary dress codes. But last month, Prime Minister, David Cameron, said the state should back institutions such as schools, courthouses and immigration centres which require individuals to remove face veils. “We are a free country and people should be free to wear whatever clothes they like in public or in private. But we should support those institutions that need to put in place rules so that those institutions can work properly,” he said.

In the 90s, the then Tory Government issued guidelines that schools should be sensitive to religious dress codes. If one takes Cameron’s comments on board it can be said that they have taken a U-turn in regard to the previous policy. According to Department for Education guidelines, schools should not only “act reasonably” to accommodate religious requirements in their uniform policy, but also ensure they act within the Equality Act 2010 on religious discrimination.

UKIP, which has been gaining success at the polls at the expense of the Tories, is the only party to have previously called for a total ban of the face veil. Their Leader, Nigel Farage, said in 2010 the full veils are a symbol of an “increasingly divided Britain”, that they “oppress” women, and are a potential security threat. In response, Labour’s former Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, said it was “not British” to tell people what to wear in the street.

The issue of the face veil, which is common in some Arab states and has been adopted by Muslims of various backgrounds who follow a more salafist interpretation of Islam, is being blown out of all proportion as it is worn by so few Muslim women in this country. Britain is a tolerant society and must remain so. We would be on a dangerously slippery slope if restrictions on what one wore in regard to their religion, was challenged. This is not to say that there should be no provisions to overcome security or identity risks – which are rare in occurrence as it is. There appears to be increasing ignorance, deliberate or not, about the various forms of Muslim dress. What is clear is that it seems to affront the tabloid displays of scantily dressed females.

The ugly debate is part of a recurring theme that demonises Muslims – playing to the gallery of extremists such as the BNP and EDL. No one can be left in any doubt about the increase in Islamophobia, not just amongst extremists and tabloids but also in mainstream politics and the media. All of which, needs to be addressed urgently.

3 Responses to “Regurgitating prejudices against Muslim dress”

Iftikhar AhmadOctober 25, 2013

A Muslim girl of 19, says the government should not dictate what she wears, and that the niqab allows her to be free from the confines of fashion.

Leave these people alone. They want to cover from head to toe and you want to walk naked on the streets so why force them to be like you!!

People don’t realise that once you start banning items of clothing from public life, you open Pandora’s box in attacking your civil rights. These laws are not just here to protect the minority but potentially – the majority, on a global scale everyone is the minority. You can’t just ban one piece of item and not see the law applied in another areas, you follow the law all and not just when it suits you and that can end up being dangerous… People should have the option of wearing/not wearing the headscarf in any country. And all this talk about going backwards, how is wearing a headscarf backwards? Has anyone realized how Turkey is the super power of Europe with their financial stability? if they were heading backwards then why is Europe begging them to enter the EU after so many years of rejection? The only country in Europe with a strong economical stability, strong military presence, no WMF debts all this and others achieved by a medieval government? Id like to have one in UK Plz.

Islam is a religion of peace love and JUSTICE. Muslims don’t and should not prove their innocence who believe that Islam is a violent religion. ISLAM today and after 9/11 has been the fastest growing religion in the WORLD. To be honest, nobody like peaceful religion… it seems that its impossible to gain billions of followers if a prophet was evil.. and it has decline the number of Christianity in the world.. Judaism as well.. the only war today was due to people that are greedy for power.. but in majority of Muslims view, politics is only for man who wants to challenge his life. Most of us don’t like politics because later you would be put in trial in front of God. Ordinary Muslims prefer to be away from it..

When sister of the former British PM and so many women returned to Islam some inquisitive students begun to ask, why the West comes to Islam despite deliberate distortion in the Media and constant sponsorship against Islam? As a reminder, Pharaoh killed male children but Moses was brought up in his house. Allah guides whom so ever He wishes.

The hypocrisy of the Western society is clearly seen whereas an Australian Judge failed to jail nine males who admitted gang-raping a 10-year old aborigine girl in 2005, saying the victim probably agreed to have sex with them and a UNICEF Photo of the year shows, a bridegroom, 40, with his 11-year old bride in Afghanistan. In my opinion, a UNICEF photo of the year must show a nine year British girl having a baby and another photo showing a gang of teenage girls with anti-social behaviour and vomiting out side a pub, thanks to binge drinking. This is sickening. It’s no wonder Great Britain is in such a bad shape. Ten years old British girls are having babies out of wedlock. They are not allowed to get married but are allowed to have babies. Teenage pregnancy rate in Great Britain is the highest in Western Europe. It is a civilised country and Yemen is a backward country because it allows young girls to get married.


ZafarOctober 28, 2013

Grow up stop dreaming! When you are in a non muslim country don’t go on about what you can wear, you got no rights! Behave as everyone else, if you love your religion so much go to a muslim country and stop your nonsense. You should be lucky that you have been granted so many mosques that surely you should be happy. You can’t get everything otherwise there would be a muslim monarch and prime minister by now.


Iftikhar AhmadDecember 1, 2013

Did you forget how your white asses came on boats, robbed people of their wealth from colonies in East? And killed and tortured them? Did you ´integrate´ then? You Britishers are-were nothing but thieves. Majority British population does not know its own history of crimes against humanity because your government there wants to regiment you with false propaganda and tell you bed time stories about your ´royalty´… who were, as I said, nothing but thieves. Europe gets what it deserves for all of its brutal colonization. So much for white, Christian superiority. Go talk to the Jews, Native Americans, Africans and Asians who have been murdered in the name of YOUR god you stupid b*t*h!

A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found that native parents were deserting some schools after finding their children out numbered by pupils from ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are becoming increasingly segregated. The study focused on 13 local authorities. Many of the schools and colleges are segregated and this was generally worsening over recent years. This is RACISM because British society is the home of institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim schools where there is no place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on educational process and not on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. For higher studies and research, Muslim teacher is not a priority.

A study claims that Black and Asian pupils are being held back in the classroom because schools are “intuitionally racist”. Let the minority communities educate their own children and you better educate your children for the well being of the British society. Islamic schools protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions.

It is easy to say” Go back to where you came from”, but do not forget that British Muslims are actually born and educated here. They are in the unenviable position of trying to combine two different worlds. That is no easy. We do not want to change you lot but we would like to see our children getting balanced Islamic education along with National Curriculum. We would like our children to learn and be well versed in standard English to follow the National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. At the same time we would like our children to learn and be well versed in Arabic, Urdu and other community languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of their literature and poetry. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Bilingualism is an asset but British schooling regards it as a problem.

During colonial days, British did not follow local customs or culture. They didn’t exactly “go native”. They even forced the native Americans and native Australian to adopt all the evils of their culture and customs. They are still the underdogs of American and Australian societies. At least Australian Prime Minister apologised to the natives for their evil deeds. Brits living in Spain and France don’t even bother learning the language of the new adopted country. Frankly suggesting that people don’t want to become “British” they should move elsewhere is extremely irritating. Immigrants are in UK because they are needed, it was never an act of charity. Without migration, British economy and society will bleed to death. British culture and customs will undoubtedly change as it has for millennium due to immigration. I am not quite sure why Brits would be worried about that.


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