NIQAB DEBATE IN UK REVEALS BRITISH INTOLERANCE
A 23 year old British-muslim women was suspended from her position as a language teacher for 8 year olds recently in the UK. Jack Straw and Tony Blairs comments regarding the case led to an uproar . One minister said to the media that Aishah Azmi should have been sacked.
As a dedicated anthropologist/leftist (that is to say dedicated to the understanding and not the condeming of different cultural and religious practices) I tried to understand Azmi’s reactions and her adimance in refusing to remove her veil in the classroom.
I wondered could it be that she has excess facial hair? Could she have severe acne or a protruding nose? God knows there have been times where I have wanted to cover up because of I’ve got sick of waxing my upper lip or threading my eyebrows, and not to mention my investment in facial creams with serious sun factors. But this was more than just about beauty – this was about her human right to decide over her own body. Whether this decision was based on her interpertations of Islam or not is besides the point. I belive that if she was a supressed Muslim woman then she would not have bravely been in the media frontline to argue her case.
When Azmi lost the legal battle to remain in her job today she announced in her speech to the media that the outcome of her case was alienating muslim women who wore veils in the British society. These women are not a majority but a minut minority who would now experince increased ostracization.
Azmi’s case and other cases regarding religious freedom is not having the desired affect – that is to say steer British-Muslims away from the religious path but is instead forcing them to feel excluded. The governments comments and rulings is leading B-Ms to search for belonging, protection and acceptance from their religious communities instead of “naturally” and freely being a part of the British society.
It is this unnatural, this over exposure to media and politicians scrutiny of their religious and families cultural roots right through childhood and adulthood which is leading them distance themselves from everything British. Is it not easier to be oneself among people who do not ask questions and do not mock?
Is it possible for us to be British no matter the colour of our skins, our cultural or religious backgrounds? I believe that the Britian today is not leading us towards a united yet diverse country. Instead it is being fragmented and segregated due to the governments counterproductive policies. It is time for the white British politicians in power to realise that they are leading us up the wrong path.