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Racism, feminism and banning the veil

The vote in the French lower house to ban the wearing of the face veil in public is a dangerous development in the intensification of Islamophobia in Europe (Racism veiled as liberation, 15 July). That it has been proclaimed as a victory for women’s rights makes it all the more appalling. Racism is being legitimised by giving it a feminist spin. Banning the veil, or any other sort of Islamic dress, has nothing to do with liberating women. Liberation, if it is to mean anything, is about self-determination. This must include choice about how to live and dress. It is a myth that women only wear the veil because men force them to. Many women wear the veil in defiance of their parents. Why? Because they see it as a statement of pride in their religious identity and a refusal to be cowed by state-endorsed demonisation of Islam.

100 times I’ve meant to write about this, since the whole debacle started in France, and 100 times I’ve not found the time.

The bottom line for me is not about Islamophobia; it’s about another form of social control of women. Surely, the irony of telling women not to wear what you think someone else has told them to wear is not lost on the people who passed this bill. Surely!

This is not a difficult concept but I will explain it to you like you’re a two-year-old. If you feel that the wearing of the veil is oppressive and controlling, the way to rectify that is not to insist on the absence of the veil. Why not? Because that’s more opression and control.

Personal choice, autonomy, individual rights. Seriously, do the math…