Theresa May, Islam, and the Illusion of Choice

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Theresa May, the Home Secretary in Britain said that the government should have no right to tell women to wear a veil or not. May states this should be a women's choice alone.

Telling The Guardian:

"I think it's for women to make a choice about what clothes they wish to wear, if they wish to wear a veil that is for a woman to make a choice."

"There will be some circumstances in which it's right for public bodies, for example at the border, at airport security, to say there is a practical necessity for asking somebody to remove a veil."

The problem with May's statement is two fold. First, you cannot first endorse a religious choice that allows women to chose to cover up and then use legal tactics such as border security to forcefully remove these veils.

Second, and rather unrelated to May's argument is that this is a larger problem than the British governments desire to allow women to make this choice. Islamic law dictates a women must wear a full veil at all times in public and in many countries, breaking this law is punishable by death. This fear stays with these women no matter what country they live in and is forced upon them under the guise of religious doctrine.

The larger issue at stake here is a women's right in an Islamic religion. In any Islamic country with Sharia Law you are dealing with women's rights being almost non-existent. So while May is worried about women's choices in Britain, she should be more concerned with women's rights around the world. 

Written By: Dan Arel
continue to source article at medium.com

71 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by CliveHill:

      What nonsense! That quote from Theresa May is straighforward and sensible.

      Disagree. Real choice implies freedom of choice. Muslim women in true Islamic states don’t have that freedom and toadying to Islamic
      oppression aids and abets their oppression.

      • In reply to #12 by Billy Joe:

        In reply to #1 by CliveHill:What nonsense! That quote from Theresa May is straighforward and sensible.Disagree. Real choice implies freedom of choice. Muslim women in true Islamic states don’t have that freedom and toadying to Islamic oppression aids and abets their oppression.

        Yes but this article is not about Muslim women in true Islamic states is it.

          • In reply to #51 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #48 by PG:Yes but this article is not about Muslim women in true Islamic states is it.Burkas hide bruises just as well in Britain.

            Yep and bruises in Britain aren’t confined to Muslim women. Make up hides them too and most normal clothing if the bruises are carefully placed. Domestic abuse isn’t confined to Muslims.

            And as I’ve already said, a hell of a lot of the burkha wearing women you see out in Britain aren’t oppressed or beaten. For the simple reason that the oppressed and beaten burkha wearers here are rarely allowed out alone and are prisoners in their own homes. Our visible burkha wearers are more likely to be making a political statement.

          • In reply to #55 by PG:

            Domestic abuse isn’t confined to Muslims.

            It’s much higher though.

            Our visible burkha wearers are more likely to be making a political statement.

            A stupid political statement based on a crazy epistemology with no legal basis whatsoever.

          • In reply to #57 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #55 by PG:

            Domestic abuse isn’t confined to Muslims.

            It’s much higher though.

            Citation, please.

          • In reply to #65 by Katy Cordeth:

            Citation, please.

            Just Google, or spend a night in a Muslim area and listen to their screams.

          • In reply to #51 by Peter Grant:

            In reply to #48 by PG:

            Yes but this article is not about Muslim women in true Islamic states is it.

            Burkas hide bruises just as well in Britain.

            True. If we’re going to ban the burka because it may conceal evidence of spousal abuse though, why stop there? Western clothing can hide bruises too.

            Unless we’re saying domestic violence only occurs in Muslim households, the logical next step would be to introduce legislation prohibiting women from wearing anything at all in public; or at the very least, only transparent garments should be permitted.

            Either that or introduce random strip searches. And not just for women, come to think of it, as men can also be physically victimised by a partner. Roaming squads of legally empowered individuals patrolling the streets conducting on-the-spot examinations of our naked bodies could be just the thing to deter potential abusers from giving in to their savage impulses.

            There seems to be a correlation in non-Muslim unions between domestic violence and alcohol abuse, so we should probably think about banning that as well, in the interests of domiciliary harmony.

            Many relationships are put under the greatest strain when one partner – the woman usually – gets pregnant. A new mouth to feed, sleepless nights and especially financial pressure can conspire to create an atmosphere of tension and recrimination, which can trigger violence. Perhaps compulsory sterilization of those at the lower end of the social scale should be considered. I’m not advocating this, you understand; just throwing the idea out there.

            Another factor is jealousy. If someone commits adultery and her husband finds out about it… well, that’s a formula for wife-beating right there. When the medical professional is carrying out the sterilization procedure we talked about above, as he’s in the area so to speak, he could perform additional surgery – using anesthetic of course, we’re not animals – to remove the woman’s… sex drive, if you catch my drift, making her less likely to stray from the marital bed. If that’s too extreme then I’m sure it could be done chemically, like they do with sex offenders, which technically she sort of is, ‘m I right!

            I’m starting to warm to this burka ban thing. It’s just a start though. What brave new world awaits if only we stick to our guns and have the courage of our conviction that we know what’s best – much more than they do – about the clothing our Western governments permit Muslim women to don when they’re guests in our culture.

            The silly things probably aren’t even grateful for our kindness.

    • In reply to #1 by CliveHill:

      What nonsense! That quote from Theresa May is straighforward and sensible.

      I disagree, it is neither straightforward or sensible, it is endorsing slavery and inequality. It was a stupid and irresponsible comment. It has virtually nothing to do with what the woman wants, In most cases it is what the religious fanatics are forcing women to wear.
      Remember this is from the same political party that wants to remove our human rights.

  1. These women are NOT making a choice.They are at the mercy of their menfolk,who decide that suitable attire is an all encompassing black bag with slits for eyes. In Muslim countries these women have to comply or face punishment.Britain should be a place where women are freed of this cumbersome garb.Muslim law is the last thing Muslim women should be afraid of in a free country.

    The hijab is a sinister piece of clothing which can hide a multitude of bruises left by beatings.Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ally’s ‘Infidel’ sent many a chill down my spine.The constant compulsion to conform is nightmarish. She tries repeatedly in the book to explain and warn Westerners of the uncompromising mindset of the Muslim religiot and why the West should not bow to pressure by Muslims to do things their way in a Western country.

    People who were never forced into dressing in a certain way may not understand just how “Shackled” the mind becomes on having to constantly comply or face consequences.One has to start somewhere.The older generation may well have developed an affection for the prison garb and will fight tooth and nail to continue donning it.The younger people might want a change but are too afraid of the Muslim powers that be.If the government makes this easier for them so much the better.

    My grandmother wore a sari all the time,even when on her knees washing the floor.It was considered indecent not to wear one. My father was of a slightly more liberal mindset and thus my mother only wore a sari when leaving the house.I have only worn one on a few occasions tripping over the hems and ripping them! I did not have to wear a sari but I had a hell of a lot of restrictions on the kind of clothing I wore and would not wish the same on a young woman.But you see, there,s been progress.This is what I wish would happen to muslim women.

    Whe you get right down to it, it is not the government telling women what to wear.It is the Muslim men.

    • In reply to #3 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

      These women are NOT making a choice.They are at the mercy of their menfolk,who decide that suitable attire is an all encompassing black bag with slits for eyes. In Muslim countries these women have to comply or face punishment.Britain should be a place where women are freed of this cumbersome garb.M…

      Hallelujah ! Spot on!

    • In reply to #3 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

      Whe you get right down to it, it is not the government telling women what to wear.It is the Muslim men.

      Exactly!! And that’s the part that nobody talks about in the news. In Quebec, Muslim women organized a demonstration for “the right to wear their veil” a few weeks ago in a reaction to the “charter of values”. Sure, they should be allowed to wear a veil if it’s TRULY their choice…. but how free are they to really make that choice? Is it really their choice or is it the result of a strict religious upbringing?

      Does anybody in the so-called modern, liberal media ever ask these questions? Have any of these journalists ever wondered how much difference the answer to these questions make in reporting the truth? Personally, I think they purposefully avoid the subject because it’s “too controversial” (telling atheists to shut up is fine though).

      Indoctrination at a young age, obedience to authority figures (mostly men in a Muslim community). Social, religious, traditional pressures and let’s not forget peer pressure. A lot of young girls are probably even pressured by their mothers, aunts and older sisters to “dress decently”. This results in fear of being judged by other Muslim women in their daily lives (on top of the fear of punishment by men).

      A lot of the women in those communities say it’s their choice but they only think it is… In many cases, the choice was made for them, probably a long time ago. Do it long enough and you forget it was someone else who actually chose for you. Given enough time, you might even start believing it really was your choice all along. That’s the power of culture and psychological positive re-enforcement.

      Bottom line is: there’s much more at work here than meets the eye.

      • In reply to #35 by NearlyNakedApe:

        In reply to #3 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

        Indoctrination at a young age, obedience to authority figures (mostly men in a Muslim community). Social, religious, traditional pressures and let’s not forget peer pressure. A lot of young girls are probably even pressured by their mothers, aunts and older sisters to “dress decently”. This results in fear of being judged by other Muslim women in their daily lives (on top of the fear of punishment by men).

        Only the first item in that list is a religious reason for particular clothing. The rest are socio-cultural reasons.

        I also understand that the wearing of burkha or hijab is not described in the Koran.

        So you could argue that women do not wear it (whether it’s their choice or not) for religious reasons.

        Does that matter? I don’t know.

        Is this a problem? You can’t really stop someone dressing like they want to, even if the reasons for it are poor. I don’t like it, but I don’t like chavs wearing shellsuits either, and I don’t think that should be legislated against.

        I suppose there is an argument that the clothing is symptomatic of suppression of women’s rights under Islam, but I think that has to be tackled as a separate issue.

        I’m still not sure about this though.

        • _In reply to #44 by bobe_s:

          I suppose there is an argument that the clothing is symptomatic of suppression of women’s rights under Islam, but I think that has to be tackled as a separate issue.

          It’s not a symptom, it’s a tool used to do the suppressing. Are shackles and whips a symptom of slavery? No, they are the means by which people are enslaved.

          • In reply to #46 by Peter Grant:
            In reply to #44 by bobes:

            I suppose there is an argument that the clothing is symptomatic of suppression of women’s rights under Islam, but I think that has to be tackled as a separate issue.

            It’s not a symptom, it’s a tool used to do the suppressing. Are shackles and and whips a symptom of slavery? No, they are the means by which people are enslaved.

            Maybe, but clothing in itself is not a means of enforcing suppression. Shackles and whips are.

            Someone may wear something due to coercion, either direct or as a result of culture or society, or by their own choice. The clothing in itself does not tell you this. So legislating against the clothing is a potential infringement on people’s rights. In some but not all cases.

          • _In reply to #52 by bobe_s:

            Maybe, but clothing in itself is not a means of enforcing suppression. Shackles and whips are.

            Nothing is inherently anything in and of itself. Shackles and whips can be lots of fun in private, in the bedroom :D

            So legislating against the clothing is a potential infringement on people’s rights.

            I’m not arguing, slavery has far greater potential for infringement on people’s rights though.

  2. Christiana comment 3

    These women are NOT making a choice.They are at the mercy of their menfolk,who decide that suitable attire is an all encompassing black bag with slits for eyes.

    Well actually a lot are making that choice. You are unlikely to see the ones at the mercy of their menfolk as they are less likely to be allowed to leave the house. The ones you see wearing it have often made a choice and often that choice is political. I fear that many younger, newer burkha wearers are doing so for weird anti US/West reasons. That is perhaps as good a reason for considering a ban.

    The hijab is a sinister piece of clothing which can hide a multitude of bruises left by beatings

    The hijab merely covers the hair, it does not cover the face. It is the niqab and burkha that cover the face. The hijab is worn and allowed in most schools and other places where the more sinister niqab and burkha are not. The hijab is often a choice and a growing one. We have many girls in our school choosing to wear it to differentiate themselves from the tits oot for the lads mentality.

    • Thanks,I stand corrected as to the hijabIn reply to #4 by PG:

      Christiana comment 3

      These women are NOT making a choice.They are at the mercy of their menfolk,who decide that suitable attire is an all encompassing black bag with slits for eyes.

      Well actually a lot are making that choice. You are unlikely to see the ones at the mercy of their menfolk as they a…

    • In reply to #4 by PG:

      Well actually a lot are making that choice. You are unlikely to see the ones at the mercy of their menfolk as they are less likely to be allowed to leave the house.

      I agree although I can see the other side of this where people would claim that even in those cases of women who are making the voluntary choice there is a lot of social pressure and you can argue how free that choice really is.

      But for me this all comes down to my belief that government shouldn’t solve all problems. Drug addiction is a big problem. Making drugs illegal just makes it worse. The same IMO goes for dress codes. I don’t want a government to tell people how to dress.

      As for the arguments about security those are just red herrings. In cases where you have to reveal your face you take the damn thing off or you don’t get in the building, get on the plane, etc.

    • In reply to #4 by PG:

      We have many girls in our school choosing to wear it to differentiate themselves from the “tits oot for the lads” mentality

      I notice that many of the hijab-wearing female students at my dental school are extremely heavy on the eye make-up. Just saying.

      Steve

  3. Islamic law dictates a women must wear a full veil at all times in public and in many countries, breaking this law is punishable by death. This fear stays with these women no matter what country they live in and is forced upon them under the guise of religious doctrine.

    That is not actually true. In some countries the full veil is required, in others the hijab and in others, such as Indonesia, just not dressing like a stripper will suffice. The actual requirement is for both men and women to dress modestly. How that is interpreted is left pretty much up to those involved. However if men are forcing the full veil on women then they are being hypocritical as if that is their interpretation of modesty then they to should be wearing it lest women become inflamed with passions as well.

    When I pick my youngest child up from primary school I mix with a group of women whose wearing of the full veil varies. Sometimes full burkha sometimes T shirt, jeans and not even a hijab. It is confusing.

    I think the issue here is balance and more understanding. In schools the full veil is usually banned for very good reasons, exams and security. In teaching where there is a need to see expression etc it should also be banned. Likewise any arena where a women is dealing with the public. At passport control obviously, courts as well, there is a need to see the face. But walking thru a park? Perhaps not.

    The worrying thing now is the fact that the women who have ‘chosen’ to wear the full veil are doing so for political reasons I think. The ones forced are rarely out alone.

  4. This article is utter rubbish. I am no fan of Ms May (yesterday at the Tory Party Conference she threatened to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights so she would be better equipped to – er – victimise Muslims).

    But most Muslims in Britain were born here and are third or fourth generation immigrants. They may well be the product of a certain amount of indoctrination, but that’s true of all faiths. They wear veils as a matter of choice, just a say Jewish men wear the yarmulke, and it is illiberal to ban them from doing so.

    That is, incidentally, also the published position of the National Secular Society.

    • In reply to #6 by Stevehill:

      most Muslims in Britain were born here and are third or fourth generation immigrants

      This cannot be true, the muslim population has grown by nearly 50 per cent just in the last ten years and doubled in the ten years prior to that.

      What difference it makes eiither way is difficult to see but there is no need to spread some ridiculous untruths about it.

      • In reply to #40 by HomerJay:

        In reply to #6 by Stevehill:

        most Muslims in Britain were born here and are third or fourth generation immigrants

        This cannot be true, the muslim population has grown by nearly 50 per cent just in the last ten years and doubled in the ten years prior to that.

        difference it makes eiither way is difficult to see but there is no need to spread some ridiculous untruths about it.

        Unless you have evidence to present which shows the majority of Muslims in the UK are not indigenes, it’s bad form to accuse Stevehill of spreading lies.

        Come back when you’ve done some research.

  5. Steve Hill comment 6

    But most Muslims in Britain were born here and are third or fourth generation immigrants. They may well be the product of a certain amount of indoctrination, but that’s true of all faiths. They wear veils as a matter of choice, just a say Jewish men wear the yarmulke, and it is illiberal to ban then from doing so.

    Very much so,and the range of choices and reasons for them go way beyond their original religious upbringings. I know many hijab wearers who are incredibly high powered career women. I know many who no longer bother with the hijab but whose daughters have elected to wear it despite NO pressures from anyone.

    Muslims are not generic. In my school the Muslim girls and their parents are no different from their non muslim peers. Ambitious, pushy bright etc – all headed for good univerities and economic freedome. In other school there are the girls who are shipped off to Pakistan to marry or are denied an education. But in those schools you’ll find their non muslim peers don’t fare particularly well either if we’re honest. They too will be leaving school early, be abused by whatever partner they end up with and be pregnant and dependent as well. So it is wrong to assume generic traits and lack of choice in any group made up of individuals.

  6. You can have any colour of car as you want so long as it is black.

    Islam and western democratic notions of female equality are diametrically opposed. I don’t think there is any way to avoid that.

    Is there not some concept in law that you may not sell yourself into slavery?

  7. Many people seem to be adopting either a position of “They make a free choice” or “They are forced into it”. Surely it is both? In fact I know it is because I’ve personally spoken to muslim women in both positions. I agree that security is a red herring. The question is whether we as a society are prepared to act to protect women from being forced into veils at the risk of restricting the freedom of women to choose. There are many areas of society in which freedom of choice is restricted in order to protect people (I cannot choose to drive without a seatbelt for example) and this could be another. As a compromise, I would like to see a law specifically against the compelling of someone to adopt a particular garb or lifestyle for religious purposes. It may be largely symbolic (and difficult to enforce) but it would send an appropriate message and afford women who wish to rebel against religious/cultural pressures some degree of protection.

    • In reply to #13 by paulmcuk:

      As a compromise, I would like to see a law specifically against the compelling of someone to adopt a particular garb or lifestyle for religious purposes.

      So, I can hear it now “Police, yes come and arrest my wife, we have to go to a funeral mass and she won’t get in the car unless I put on a suit, I didn’t even like the guy why should I have to wear a suit?”

      It may be largely symbolic (and difficult to enforce) but it would send an appropriate message and afford women who wish to rebel against religious/cultural pressures some degree of protection.

      Those are the exact same justifications that people have been using for years to justify all kinds of bad laws. “Sure we know pot is less harmful to most people than many other legal drugs but what kind of a message would it send to legalize it?” I don’t agree with right wingers on much but one thing I do agree on is we don’t need a nanny state telling us how to live our lives. No laws about what size beverages we can drink and no government mandated dress codes.

      If someone is threatening violence to a spouse because they won’t dress a certain way that is already illegal. I would be all for more money to support battered women’s shelters and to provide specific support to communities especially at risk such as fundamentalists.

    • In reply to #14 by stuhillman:

      Muslim woman in Yemen. photo by Steve Evans / Wikimedia Commons – how do you know?

      Wikimedia Commons is a publicly accessible database of images and other media. The process for submitting something isn’t the same as just making an edit to Wikipedia articles. Essentially anyone can edit most Wikipedia articles. It will eventually get reviewed and possibly reverted if it doesn’t have a reference but it is possible for unsourceed material that is just something some wanker wrote to remain for a while on Wikipedia articles that few people pay attention to.

      The Commons is completely different. There is a lot more control and when you submit something, it is reviewed almost immediately. I know because before I understood the difference I accidentally added something to the Commons without the appropriate intellectual property data and I heard from them right away and it was withdrawn.

      You have to demonstrate that you have the copyright to it or that you have a compelling reason (which will be verified by someone else) that the media is in the public domain. Things like who took the photo, etc. So in short, of course it’s possible to game any system and I’m sure there are things in the Commons that aren’t exactly what they are tagged as but for the most part, especially compared to most other sources on the Internet, it is very reliable.

      • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #14 by stuhillman:

        Muslim woman in Yemen. photo by Steve Evans / Wikimedia Commons – how do you know?

        Wikimedia Commons is a publicly accessible database of images and other media. The process for submitting something isn’t the same as just making an edit to Wikipedia articles. Essenti…

        Well, thanks for the info on the source of the photo but, if you don’t get the joke, explaining it won’t help.

  8. We must ALL get to know what Islam is about. Its is totalitarian, supremacist and bigoted, so debating dress code, diet, sexual mores or
    any of the multitude of rules governing every aspect of Muslim life is pointless and a powerful smokescreen for the aims of Islam.
    Many will opine that other religions have questionable aspects but don’t be deflected by another smokescreen.

    This so-called religion is IMO an extreme political doctrine dressed in religious disguise- how cunning was Muhammad inventing such a
    system? I have found ‘ordinary’ muslims, even more than their religious counterparts in Christianity are incredibly ignorant of their Koran; I have yet to meet a single one who has read the Book, or any of the Hadith or Sunnah of the Prophet.
    They accept what the imams tell them at the mosque without question and no wonder- they are told in no uncertain terms NOT to
    question.

    It seems to me that a great problem with Islam is that once it invades a non-muslim society it is impossible to remove; there is no way to
    revert to former beliefs since the price for that (apostasy) is death. Totalitarian?

    Another is the teaching that ” You are the best of peoples” in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
    Supremacist?

    Third, teaching that “Jews are sons of apes and pigs”, ” Take not your friends from the people of the book, they are not to be trusted” and “Be harsh to the non-believers but be merciful to those who believe”
    Bigoted?

    Finally the aims of Islam…
    All the world MUST be converted to Islam, or be subjugated, pay the jizya and feel humiliation, or be slaughtered. This is the duty of every ‘true’ muslim and jihad is to be embraced in its fulfilment. I know this sounds hard to believe but don’t take my word for it, look up the Koranic verses that explicitly state this dogma. Of course, Islamic doctrine is clever enough to advise caution when Islam is in a position of weakness and also employment of many different strategies according to circumstances. We see this in the pressure applied to host governments to accommodate Islamic dress, prayer, mosques,
    halal food, madrassas and many other of demands of the Religion of Peace.

    If anyone can propose a way that western democratic values can accommodate these aims I look forward to hearing it. Otherwise we
    are feeding the crocodile, are we not?

  9. I always thought it was a woman’s choice to wear a chastity belt, just in case she is out and about and meets a man who is not a member of her family. It is no business of anyone to say she can’t wear one or to assume she is being coerced and it’s a free country. She might have to declare it if it sets off an airport metal detector but what the hell and……….but………..

    People do the most extraordinary things because it is required of them, sometimes by, tradition and sometimes by force and in this I think women get the thin end of the wedge.

    Consider men who wear neck ties. Why a grown man with free will would wake up in the morning and tie what amounts to a ligature around his neck is amazing but millions do it. Some men get frowned upon for not doing it. Now if men find themselves entrenched in this peculiar tyranny how much harder is it for a woman in a society where tradition makes demands and her husband maybe enforces the same. To what extent is this any freedom of choice?

    Is Theresa May exerting free will? Is that her talking there or is she taking a party line because she has to?

  10. The starting point for law should be harm to others. It generally does no harm to others to wear full head coverings. As and when it does interfere with others local rules, and if necessary, laws, are appropriate. And these should be applicable whether or not the full head covering is religiously motivated or not.

    To bring legislation to control clothing based on its (perceived or real) religious background is to accept the principle that (this) religion is different to other beliefs. This presents grave and insurmountable (in my view) legal difficulties. It is discriminatory and contrary to the principles of justice in this country to legislate because of religions. Yes – this doesn’t stop parliament in its great wisdom from doing so but nonetheless it is basically the wrong thing to do. From a pro-atheist point of view it is problematic as it elevates the status of religion to mark it out for special legislation, whether positive or negative. If the law is phrased in a non-religious way it would still be contrary to the spirit of freedom of belief – in that we all know the cause for such legislation is religious. Moreover I cannot see how it can be phrased in a non-religious way without criminalising the freedom that I have to wear headgear for a fancy dress party, or indeed just because I want to.

  11. I wonder if people would be so understanding if a freed slave took to wearing the leg irons and shackles as a choice item. It seems to me that all the people who suffered under slavery or who died trying to bring an end to such a wicked practice would feel more than a little insulted. Choosing to wear a face covering in a free society is more than just bad manners it is a kick in the teeth to all those women who are still struggling for equality in the misogynistic religious societies and an insult to the enlightened sections of humanity that have recently emerged from hundreds of years of religious wars and gained a modicum of freedom from the futility of sectarian persecution. Mrs May should think again about her position.

    • In reply to #21 by fintail:

      Choosing to wear a face covering in a free society is more than just bad manners it is a kick in the teeth to all those women who are still struggling for equality in the misogynistic religious societies and an insult to the enlightened sections of humanity that have recently emerged from hundreds of years of religious wars and gained a modicum of freedom from the futility of sectarian persecution. Mrs May should think again about her position.

      Yes. I agree. The thing is I don’t want the government to be in the business of legislating what is “good manners”. That is the thing many people don’t seem to get about freedom, it means some people will be free to do things we don’t like.

      Burning a flag is stupid. It doesn’t change anyone’s mind and it insults people who gave their loved ones or parts of their bodies to defend the country. I still think it should be legal. The same with face coverings. I don’t like it when I see a woman dressed this way. I just don’t think government should try to fix every wrong by making things illegal. I don’t think drinking huge sodas makes sense either but I don’t want the government to wast time making them illegal as they did in New York.

      The police should be focusing on real crimes not on locking people up for smoking pot and not on locking them up for not adhering to the government dress code.

    • In reply to #21 by fintail:

      I wonder if people would be so understanding if a freed slave took to wearing the leg irons and shackles as a choice item…

      Are you seriously suggesting that it should be illegal – ie people arrested prosecuted and punished – for a freed slave to wear shackles?

      • In reply to #30 by Shrinking_Dogma:

        In reply to #21 by fintail:

        I wonder if people would be so understanding if a freed slave took to wearing the leg irons and shackles as a choice item…

        Are you seriously suggesting that it should be illegal – ie people arrested prosecuted and punished – for a freed slave to wear shackles?

        No I am not suggesting new Laws. I normally ignore bad manners or attempt to ridicule the perpetrator. I wonder whether ridiculing someone wearing a bag over their head would be classified as a religiously motivated hate crime. I do agree that people are entitled to wear whatever they like, but they are not entitled to be taken seriously.

        • In reply to #39 by fintail:

          I’m sure almost all readers of this forum will agree that deciding to wear bloody stupid clothing, particularly for religious reasons, particularly if pressured, is distasteful and pointless. We know it is stupid, we know why people do it, we should be convincing them not to do it by changing their minds about religion. Posting to this forum doesn’t help any of that happen because we all agree that such clothing shouldn’t generally be worn for all kinds of reasons.

          The real and only debate to be had amongst atheists is not whether it is stupid, but whether there should be a law against it. Ms May says no. I say no. I don’t necessarily agree with her about level of freedom of choice of the people wearing such things, but ultimately having a law or not is the debate. Saying it should be stopped without saying there should be a law about it is so much hot air in a forum such as this.

          • In reply to #41 by Shrinking_Dogma:

            In reply to #39 by fintail:

            I’m sure almost all readers of this forum will agree that deciding to wear bloody stupid clothing, particularly for religious reasons, particularly if pressured, is distasteful and pointless. We know it is stupid, we know why people do it, we should be convincing them no…
            Shrinking_Dogma I was merely commenting in the comment column. Not entering into a debate about new laws on the pre-Islamic Persian fashion sense. Clearly you see my comment as “meaningless hot air”. So I bow to your greater knowledge in that subject area.
            But thank you anyway for your responses.

          • In reply to #41 by Shrinking_Dogma:

            The real and only debate to be had amongst atheists is not whether it is stupid, but whether there should be a law against it. Ms May says no. I say no. I don’t necessarily agree with her about level of freedom of choice of the people wearing such things, but ultimately having a law or not is the debate. Saying it should be stopped without saying there should be a law about it is so much hot air in a forum such as this.

            Well said. I agree completely.

      • In reply to #30 by Shrinking_Dogma:

        Are you seriously suggesting that it should be illegal – ie people arrested prosecuted and punished – for a freed slave to wear shackles?

        Well I am. Especially when their “choice” to wear shackles provides a smokescreen helping to conceal illegal slave trafficking.

  12. Interesting comment from Clive Hill: can’t you see May is taking the TYPICAL POLITICAL RESPONSE, i.e: it’s called “sitting on the fence” and the usual double standards & political hypocrisy, that way you don’t upset anybody. Richard is perfectly correct, I work at an airport and believe me if a man with a mask or any other passenger came through with their head covered they would be asked to remove it, but not muslim women, strange that, I wonder why….?
    What also makes me chuckle about religious people or religious apologists is this: if you are so sure and certain and have 110% irrefutable & positive proof about the fact that big g exists: why attack atheists? Surely you should be shaking your head in amusement and not responding to them and saying to your self: “the poor dears, they’ll find out” and save your energy. If someone said something to me that I know for a fact is incorrect and I can prove the fact, then I wouldn’t waste my energy arguing, I’d leave them alone. Why can’t religious people leave us atheists alone, well of course you are right aren’t you? Aren’t you?
    Also why are you so interested in this site? Aren’t you wasting your time and energy? After all, you know we’re wrong, aren’t we?

    • In reply to #24 by dicknavi:

      Me again: I know, why don’t we all go around with masks on, then no-one can see anybody’s face, should be great in a bank…..

      As I said the security issue seems to me to be irrelevant. My position on that is simple, if you have to show your face you have to show your face. It doesn’t matter whether you are some of my friends who like to wear masks and go to the Folsom street fair in San Francisco (definitely has nothing to do with Sharia law) or whether its a hijab. You’re right to be part of the S&M scene or to practice Islam don’t trump societies rights to guarantee safety. I actually think in the US we have gone way too far overboard on sacrificing freedom for security that probably isn’t making us much safer but that’s a totally separate question.

      If banks want to have laws that no one can come in without a face covering, I’m not sure I see such a need for that law but if someone can make a case for it then fine, I agree no exceptions for religious garb.

    • In reply to #24 by dicknavi:

      Me again: I know, why don’t we all go around with masks on, then no-one can see anybody’s face, should be great in a bank…..

      In reply to #25 by Red Dog:

      In reply to #24 by dicknavi:

      Me again: I know, why don’t we all go around with masks on, then no-one can see anybody’s face, should be great in a bank…..

      As I said the security issue seems to me to be irrelevant. My position on that is simple, if you have to show your face you have to show your…

      “If banks want to have laws…”
      Don’t know about the country you reside in but to my knowledge ALL banks and many other institutions demand removal of motorcycle helmets and rightly so (I am a motorcycle rider, BTW). Irrelevant? How so?

      It might be a good idea to test the principle of ‘freedom of choice’ if we all spent one day wearing balaclavas, just like the IRA and most Islamist groups. Wonder what law enforcement would make of that?

      • In reply to #34 by Billy Joe:

        “If banks want to have laws…” Don’t know about the country you reside in but to my knowledge ALL banks and many other institutions demand removal of motorcycle helmets and rightly so (I am a motorcycle rider, BTW). Irrelevant? How so?

        It’s irrelevant because I agree with you. If a bank has a rule that someone has to show their face before they can be let into the bank then I agree it should apply to everyone with no special consideration because it’s a religious face covering. That is my point, I would have thought it was obvious from my previous statement:

        My position on that is simple, if you have to show your face you have to show your face

        So I think the security issues can’t be used as an excuse for an outright ban on things like the Hijab, anymore than I would support someone who said that we had to ban motorcycle riders because they might all be terrorists underneath those helmets.

  13. Indeed, the ‘illusion’ of choice. Most women on this planet do not cover their heads. When speaking about the choice muslim women have, this fact should be the benchmark by which to judge what is right or wrong.

    • In reply to #27 by Lonard:

      Indeed, the ‘illusion’ of choice. Most women on this planet do not cover their heads. When speaking about the choice muslim women have, this fact should be the benchmark by which to judge what is right or wrong.

      Argumentum ad populum:

      …a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it. In other words, the basic idea of the argument is: “If many believe so, it is so.”

      • In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #27 by Lonard:

        Indeed, the ‘illusion’ of choice. Most women on this planet do not cover their heads. When speaking about the choice muslim women have, this fact should be the benchmark by which to judge what is right or wrong.

        Argumentum ad populum:

        …a fallacious argument that concl…

        Oh dear Katy, I knew in advance that someone would come up with this response. But think again. In this particular case, it is totally legitimate to look at the numbers.

  14. Here is an interesting example of “choice” where faith-heads are left in charge of education!

    Derby Muslim free school Al-Madinah closes after inspection – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24360100

    A Muslim free school accused of imposing strict Islamic practices, such as segregated classrooms, has closed following an inspection by Ofsted.

    The school is also facing a probe by the Education Funding Agency.

    The BBC understands Ofsted’s findings were so damning that the acting head of Al-Madinah, in Derby, had little choice but to shut it down immediately.

    The school said the move was due to a “health and safety issue” but expected it to reopen in the “very near future”.

    Ofsted says it cannot disclose its concerns until the inspection ends.

    It added it had “made some findings and shared them with the principal”.

    In a statement on the school’s website titled “short term closure”, interim principal Stuart Wilson said: “Owing to a health and safety issue, I have taken the decision to close the school… until I am confident that all children are safe on site.

    “As parents, you will be informed directly, and on the website, when you are able to send your children back to school…

    “Assuring you that we have your children’s best interests at heart.”

    In a series of newspaper reports unnamed former staff members of Al-Madinah, which opened as a free school in September last year, had alleged that girls were forced to sit at the back of the classroom.

    Unnamed female staff members have also claimed they were forced to conform to a strict dress code including wearing a head scarf or hijab – whether or not they were Muslim.

    When it opened Al-Madinah claimed to be the first Muslim ethos, all-through [reception, primary and secondary] free school in the country.

    The school’s first head teacher, Andrew Cutts-Mckay, left the school after less than a year in the job.

    Last week, the interim principal told the BBC that he had not received any complaints from colleagues regarding the dress code and that pupils were not being segregated, with girls and boys being treated equally.

    Ofsted is not the only organisation with concerns about Al-Madinah.

    The Education Funding Agency – from which the school gets its public funding – is investigating alleged financial irregularities.

    In a statement, the Department for Education said it was already investigating the school before the allegations became public.

    It said: ”We discussed the problems with Ofsted and it launched an immediate inspection. We are waiting for Ofsted’s final report and considering all legal options.”

    The school’s closure is likely to be embarrassing for Education Secretary Michael Gove, who introduced free schools in 2010 in an effort to raise standards in education.

    Free schools are state funded but operate outside local education authority control and can be set up by parents and community groups in England.

    Another of Muppet Gove’s “wonderful” ideas. (I wonder why teacher’s organisations have passed votes of no confidence in him! )

    Division Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) in Derby, Sue Arguile, said: “What is happening with Al-Madinah is really indicative of why we are concerned about free schools – because of the lack of accountability.

    “If this was a local authority school and there were concerns being raised, the local authority would be investigating.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-24224772

  15. Throughout the last 30 years, feminists and trade unionists did not think that it was just fine and dandy that women were accepting lower wages for the same work as men, because the women were making a choice. Feminists recognised that options can be so limited that there is no choice. The options are limited for girls and women who have been abandoned in segregated muslim enclaves, brought up in a culture where they are 2nd class (in terms of access to mosques, in terms of sharia law, in terms of domestic violence and “honour crime”). Young asian women in Britain are hugely over-represented among suicide cases. But Theresa May will prefer to look the other way, and emphasise how they are exercising their freedom to choose.

    If Theresa May thinks that people indoctrinated into a religion, living in segregation, under the threat of violence are truly “choosing”, then she presumably thinks that the victims of rape chose to be raped. After all, they could have fought their rapist to the point of death, but they chose not to.

    The Home Secretary gets to see out her post without having to really get to grips with the moral and legal issues around the burka (or any of the other 7th century aspects of islam). And feminists and the liberal-left permit her this easy option, because fundamentally they think that the human rights of girls brought up in musim enclaves stop at the entrance to the enclave. When a group of young Somali women debated Lyn Feathersone (the “Equalities Minister”) on Newsnight, they accused her of racism, for her part in allowing 100,000 British girls/women to have their genitials hacked at for the sake of religion, “honour” and male power/pleasure. The only person on that Newsnight debate who agreed with Lyn Featherstone that enough was being done was the Somali man. All the Somali women, all the women on the panel were opposed to the “Equalities Minister” and her ally, the muslim man.

    Our politicians will keep on taking the easy way out, because the media, the academics, and the activists allow them to get away with it.

  16. “But most Muslims in Britain were born here and are third or fourth generation immigrants. They may well be the product of a certain amount of indoctrination, but that’s true of all faiths. They wear veils as a matter of choice”

    Well they haven’t done for forty years so why start now. Is this a new revelation from Mohamed? It is purely political. If we can ban the IRA why can’t we ban the burka? The burka is quite simply a political uniform that denotes supporters of terrorism. It is a Fu*k you to the rest of us, don’t pretend it isn’t, that would be a big mistake.

  17. fintail comment 21 Choosing to wear a face covering in a free society is more than just bad manners it is a kick in the teeth to all those women who are still struggling for equality in the misogynistic religious societies

    Sorry but I think many women consider choosing to get your tits out in zoo or nuts or playboy or page three a kick in the teeth for all those women who struggled for equality and still are. Are you equally against that?

    That is not a good argument. The women wearing burkhas in the UK have made choices in this society based on this society’s codes. And if you question a lot of the girls in my school suddenly choosing to wear a hijab it is a reaction against the pressures of UK society and how it judges women not based on how Afghanistsan or Iran or whatever judge women.

    Question why they make those choices but they have chosen. In cases of face veils or page three. But don’t pretend they are anything at all to do with what is happening elsewhere.

    • In reply to #47 by PG:

      Sorry but I think many women consider choosing to get your tits out in zoo or nuts or playboy or page three a kick in the teeth for all those women who struggled for equality and still are.

      Sorry, but you’re wrong.

      • In reply to #50 by Peter Grant:

        In reply to #47 by PG:Sorry but I think many women consider choosing to get your tits out in zoo or nuts or playboy or page three a kick in the teeth for all those women who struggled for equality and still are.Sorry, but you’re wrong.

        And I think I’m right. Know actually I know I’m right. So sorry but you’re wrong. Stalemate.

  18. Aber Ration Well they haven’t done for forty years so why start now. Is this a new revelation from Mohamed? It is purely political. If we can ban the IRA why can’t we ban the burka? The burka is quite simply a political uniform that denotes supporters of terrorism. It is a Fu*k you to the rest of us, don’t pretend it isn’t, that would be a big mistake.

    Thank you, you seem to be the first person to recognise this new and far from misogynistic feature of the wearing of the burkha. Tho not the only reason.

    The burkha is not so much an Islamic thing and an Arab thing. There are hundreds of Muslims in the UK who are not from that cultural background who have never worn face coverings. There was a time they were only really seen in London.

    Now Muslims whose mothers and even grandmothers would never have worn a face veil are choosing to do so. Along with Muslim males suddenly deciding to segregate in universities etc. I wouldn’t be looking to the Middle East for reasons and answers, nor the koran. I’d be looking to new politicised anti US anti western feelings for my answers to the increase in burkhas.

  19. I think May should wear something over her head. She seems to think that that is normal in western society. Given the plight of animals worldwide, I think that silly cow should have more to talk about than muslims running around with black bags over their heads.

    • In reply to #59 by pipsy:

      When I see Theresa May choosing to wear a Burkha everywhere for just one month I will reconsider my views. Until then she should be ashamed for promoting misogyny and sexism.

      You can stand up for someone’s civil rights even if you don’t agree with what they say. In fact the true test of whether people really believe in actual free speech is if they stand up for the speech that most offends them.

      Many years ago a friend of mine, a Jewish woman, was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The American Nazis wanted to hold a march in a mostly Jewish suburb of Chicago. Many people tried to stop them but the ACLU supported them and my friend agreed with their position on the grounds that everyone, even the most vile, deserve free speech.

      Would you tell her “don’t defend the rights of the Nazis unless you have been a Nazi for a month”?

  20. It’s curious that the type of man who thinks a woman is as worthless as a dropped lollipop (quoting a recent muslim rapist’s opinion) goes to some lengths to conceal these worthless items in fear that someone else dare take a lick of them.

    We cannot entirely exclude the possibility that some women are voluntarily making political statements though I’d like to see the evidence for it and if they have an agenda there are more constructive ways to declare it.

  21. In reply to #60 by Red Dog:

    The American Nazis wanted to hold a march in a mostly Jewish suburb of Chicago. Many people tried to stop them but the ACLU supported them and my friend agreed with their position on the grounds that everyone, even the most vile, deserve free speech.

    The reason we give them free speech is so that we can more effectively judge whether or not to let them march.

  22. In reply to #5 by PG:

    …I think the issue here is balance and more understanding. In schools the full veil is usually banned for very good reasons, exams and security. In teaching where there is a need to see expression etc it should also be banned. Likewise any arena where a women is dealing with the public. At passport control obviously, courts as well, there is a need to see the face…

    It’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, is it not? At airports, banks, schools or any public or semi-public place where security may be compromised if an individual’s identity cannot be determined because they wear the veil, why not just have a female member of staff ask to see this person’s face? Just for as long as it takes to make sure it matches the photo on the passport, driving license or student id card they’re presenting. If they refuse, they may not be who they claim and you can throw them the hell out or call the cops.

    Muslim women who wear the veil don’t care if other women see their face.

  23. Most Islamic women have NO real right to choose to wear veils or not….but some western muslim women thankfully have some right of freedom to consider not wearing their veils or perhaps at least asserting their western democratic right to equality and insist on wearing it…but who are they kidding ??? who the hell wants the right to choose to wear an item of oppression, sexism and slavery….by all means wear it if its a fashion statement…but not because someone else insists you wear it…..That’s what western democracy is trying to stamp out…..

    Some western muslim women are confused about having any rights at all – in society and some of those rights conflict with their family and traditional views …
    Its a bit like allowing people not to pay tax…some silly twats would still pay it – having paid it for so long and to be seen as being good and obedient to the traditional among them……..I would rather see muslim women fight for their right not to be treated differently to the men in their own religion…..I’d rather see them fight to not wear any symbol of oppression..

  24. I am not as bright as half of you lot, but I can tell you that humans operate like all primates and some other orders through facial expression. Can you imagine a monkey – or indeed any animal trying to communicate with a black blanket. It should be banned. Banned.

  25. “Islamic law dictates a women must wear a full veil at all times in public and in many countries, breaking this law is punishable by death. This fear stays with these women no matter what country they live in and is forced upon them under the guise of religious doctrine.”

    Islamic law, sharia, IS religious doctrine. Knock, knock, anyone home?

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