Sunday, June 26 2016

Alibhai-Brown continues her shrill crusade against Burqa and Niqab-wearers

  Yasmin Alibhai-Brown publishes yet another piece attacking the burqa and niqab.

Writing in the Daily Mail today, Yasmin refers to comments made by Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, on the burqa. Spelman, who said that her visit to Afghanistan had persuaded her that the burqa 'confers dignity' and that it can be 'empowering', is singled out by Yasmin who contends she 'must be mad.'

Alibhai-Brown says:

‘Yes, Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, really did claim that the burka delivers its wearer blissful freedom. As a Muslim, you might expect me to agree with her, but I can't. She is wrong. Her fatuous and ill-conceived defence of the burka rendered me apoplectic with fury.

Does she even understand the harm she does by sanctioning this perversion of our faith?’

Spelman has not sanctioned the perversion of Islam – she merely defended the right of women to wear what they choose, stating: 'I don't, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can't wear.'  Why is it so difficult for Alibhai-Brown to accept that though she may not choose to cover her head or her face, there are many Muslims who would choose to do so?

She continues:

‘Immigrant Muslims who came to Britain to get away from Stalinist ayatollahs, mullahs and women-hating fanatic regimes in their home countries must be spitting their teeth out after hearing Spelman's astounding endorsement of this dreadful garment.

‘We Muslims who came here wanted the freedom that Britain's proud history of democracy was renowned for. We wanted better education for our children and to live and pray in peace in a country which, for all its faults, gives us civil rights and equality between the sexes.’

The implication of this argument is that all Muslims in Britain are immigrants who have been motivated to come to Britain by their desire to escape tyranny. Could Alibhai-Brown be any more cliché in how she views the Muslim community? It might come as a surprise to her, but there is a sizeable community of Muslims who are not immigrants, and who reside in Britain for an array of reasons. Note also the irony of celebrating Britain’s freedoms and then denigrating those very same freedoms for those who wish to wear the niqab or burqa.

Alibhai-Brown then writes:

‘I'd like to invite Mrs Spelman to prove she believes what she says by wearing the black sheet and mask  - surely she should do that as an act of solidarity with the 'empowered' Muslim sisters she admires so much.

‘And if she chooses not to, if she feels she would find wearing a burka limiting and suffocating, why on earth is she breezily recommending it as a garment for other women?’

On this matter, Arianna Dinni from Demos, writes:

‘Now more than ever it is time for Britain to stand by that sensible moderation for which it has been praised since Burke and that critical jealousy of personal liberty which Montesquieu so admired in the English.  You do not have to like burqas, just as you do not have to like breast implants, goths, skinheads, or hippies.  But for the Government to legislate against any of these expressions of identity is not the solution.’

Spelman, like all those who defend personal liberty, does not have to wear a ‘black sheet and mask’ to make the point that women have the right to hold differing perspectives on the issue of the veil – with some genuinely choosing to wear it, and indeed feeling ‘empowered’ by it. What gives Alibhai-Brown the authority to speak on behalf of all Muslim women and presume to know what they think, feel and articulate?

Moreover, her contention that Spelman ‘breezily’ recommended the veil is a distortion of Spelman’s interview with Sky’s Adam Boulton (see transcript here). There is a clear line between recommending a garment, and recommending the right of a woman to wear what she chooses – a distinction conveniently blurred by Alibhai-Brown to support her emotionally-charged tirade against veiled women.

She continues:

‘By the time they [covered-up Muslim girls] have reached adulthood, covered-up women have all but accepted the idea that they are evil temptresses. This is a notion that grossly insults Muslim men as well - for it assumes they are sexual beasts who cannot contain themselves if they see a hint of female flesh.’

Here Alibhai-Brown meshes out the functional arguments for hijab. Can all human motivations or for that matter, society, culture, customs and religious practices be explained away with functional arguments alone? Alibhai-Brown would seem to think so for there could be no other reason – such as scriptural reasoning, devotion to faith – for wearing a veil aside from it acting as a counter-response to the sexualisation of society, or the assumption that men are ‘sexual beasts.’

Veil-observing women after all are ‘exerting a choice they can’t not make’ contends Alibhai-Brown. And how does she arrive at such a conclusion? Well of course – as a result of all those veil-observing women who, she says, turn up at her door ‘seeking refuge from their fathers, mothers, brothers and in-laws – men brain-washed by religious leaders who use physical and mental abuse to compel girls to cover up.’

Is not Alibhai-Brown’s vilification of Muslim men as ‘brain-washed’ and oppressive just as bad as the assumption of men as ‘sexual beasts’ that she contends is made by ‘covered-up’ women?

But, Alibhai-Brown does recognise that there are those Muslim women who do wear a veil of their own volition and who do not turn up at her door:

‘True, a minority of feisty Muslim women today don the veil to show off their kind of girl power.

‘If they had any conscience, they would not and could not wear the garment that, in so many sectors of society across the world, has become the main way to torment and punish women and girls. Our burka heroines collude with those who torture young Iranian women, for they are proxy maidens to the Taliban.’

Ironically, earlier in the piece, Alibhai-Brown contends that although she is a ‘life-long anti-racist and die-hard defender of Muslims’, her anti-burqa stance has ‘provoked fury and warnings from veiled women, who self-righteously tell me that uncovered Muslim females will end up in hell unless they repent. Women like me, they warn, are ‘western whores’ who should be thrown on the eternal fire, along with mothers.’

Western whore’ or ‘proxy maidens to the Taliban’ – Alibhai-Brown will agree that settling personal scores by resorting to tit-for-tat is not the marker of intellectual or productive debate. She ought to know better – especially if her delusions of being a progressive and enlightened Muslim are anything to go by.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 July 2010 14:20


0 #5 Mohamed from London 2010-08-10 05:32
You know what Yasmin Alibhai, I just realised - you're not worth it. You're low..too low to even discuss this issue with you. You think you know too much. You think an OBE is a licence to do whatever you like. I am just revolted at the way you twisted Caroline Spelman's statements.

Wait for the time when the Angel Death will come to you and take your soul and the time you will face God.

People like you existed before you came and will continue to come after you, but none of you will be able to change an iota of God's Will.

May God have mercy on your soul and guide you and take you out of this deviant sect of yours - The Ismailis.
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0 #4 Niqab at workDr Ann Coxon 2010-08-06 15:04
The issue of niqab is whether this is merely a personal choice or whether it impacts the relationship of the niqab wearing muslim woman to the larger community. In Mecca nurses do not wear the niqab but medical students in the UK have tried to insist that it is their right to wear niqab at work. The same applies to retail workers, teachers, cooks, chemists etc., where the niqab would impose safety issues. If that right does not exist in Mecca why should it in the UK ? In Mecca, if a woman in niqab needs to speak to a male public person ( lawyer, doctor, banker, MP ) she comes with a female witness, and removes the niqab. Islam is sensible about the need for niqab at work and in public life, , and muslim women in the UK must avoid being embarrassingly ignorant about their duties to repect the rights of others. Their strident self importance attracts the appropriate humiliation from those they have provoked unnecessarily. Dr Amina Coxon
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0 #3 curse be upon yasmin alibhaifatemah 2010-08-06 07:16
How dare you talking about niqaab when You cant even respect yourself! you said "why on earth is she breezily recommending it as a garment for other women?" Dont you know that its Allah the almighty who has aordered us to wear the burka??? I f we are doing it to please our God, what is the harm in it? if we are doing it to protect ourself from getting raped, whts the harm in it? if we want to show our faith in this manner, whts the harm in it? U are a curse woman who doesnt have faith at all. Doesnt believe in after life, who doesnot care maligning islam, who doesnot show respect, (forget your own religion) to any religion. Repent yourself before its too late. I have never in my whole life seen a muslim woman degrading islam to that extent!
ANd yea not all migrants come here to escape tyranny. I am muslim and all y muslims friends are here just to do our degree and are proud to return to our bless country. UK is not only country who can provide you with freedom. Look like you have not experience the blessing of other countries. Come to Mautitius, we will show you the real "freedom of expression, liberty......." You name it.
You are a very sad person who is using your own experience and claiming it as general experience; God tested your faith once and you fail for the rest of your life. How sad!
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0 #2 Some facts alsoShaheen 2010-07-20 12:37
Although i may not agree with Alibhai Brown she is also pointing to some facts which unfortunately are always ignored by mainstream muslims for political reasons. She does not lie when she says muslims came here..when engage says sizeable minority are from britain can they have figures. Muslims are 98.5% from immigrants roots or immigrants so thats a fact.
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0 #1 why women come herefugstar 2010-07-20 11:44
its true that some muslim ladies come here to 'escape'.

Many do not coe here to escape. I am thinking of the ladies of our mother's generation, who came just to accompany and live with their husbands. For them it just doesnt have the same connotation.

The tory 'niqab -ban' mp who spoke some begums in whitechapel, and i use begum in the honorific 'mother of warriors' sense, must have felt how lovely they were.
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