There are only a very few people who are acting responsibly concerning the veil worn by some Muslim women especially in European countries. Caroline Spelman, a Conservative Party member in the UK is one of them. While I don’t know much about the Conservative Party in England, if it’s anything like American Conservatives, this woman, Spelman is quite progressive in her thinking.
“I don’t, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear.“One of the things we pride ourselves on in this country is being free, and being free to choose what you wear is a part of that, so actually banning the burka is absolutely contrary I think to what this country is all about.
“I’ve been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result of actually visiting why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.
“It is part of their culture, it is part of understanding that they choose to go out in the burka and I think those that live in this country, if they choose to wear a burka, should be free to do so.
“You have to understand the actual culture and it was probably only when I went there and spent some time amongst women that I really understood that for them it’s a choice.
“For them the burka confers dignity, it’s their choice, they choose to go out dressed in a burka and I understand that it is a different culture from mine but the fact is in this country women want to be free to choose whether or not to cover their heads, whether or not to go out in the morning wearing a burka, that’s for them.
“We are a free country, we attach importance to people being free, and for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning when you wake up what you wear.”
It goes without saying she’s been slammed by members of her own party, but the essence of what she’s saying, the freedom to choose shouldn’t be lost on those secular countries that say the same thing about a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, for example, or what career she aspires to, etc.
For Muslim women living in the West who would like to wear the face veil or niqab who have any reservations or doubts about doing so comes this word from the primeval Islamic source, Saudi Arabia
if Muslim women are in a country that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face harassment in such a place, “it is better that the Muslim woman uncovers her face.”
Numerous scholars of various Islamic schools of thought agree on this point, Qarni said.
But he, Qarni, is not the only one saying this. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has made similar pronouncements, and there is spirited discussion on Muslim forums about this issue. Of course given the opportunity, most governments would love to define their constituents in the manner that is appealing to the majority or that would ensure government office holders remain in power…and “choice” really has nothing to do with that, it’s consensus or expediency that matters. This is the attitude of western secular countries that tout one type of choice for women that is liked by a majority of them….abortion for example, but deny another type of choice not so popular. Muslim countries don’t consider choice at all; rather it’s tradition that carries the day. In traditional Muslim countries, it is up to women themselves to make their case for their choices and most likely it will have to start from the top down. Grass root movements simply don’t exist in many traditional countries. What is most interesting to this observer is two prominent Muslim countries, most notably Syria and Egypt, have said the niqab is not allowed either in public or by woman who work in government jobs, thereby placing themselves on equal footing with their brethren governments from the West; common ground found on the backs of women’s rights or lack thereof. Sad.