Friday, October 20, 2006

Two sides of the same coin?

The current fuss about muslim women wearing veils reminds me of the recent fuss about young men wearing hoodies.

Personally, I find both forms of apparel quite intimidating; although for different reasons, Hoodies because they can appear threatening and burka's because of what, to me, they represent in terms of female oppression. But just because the majority don't like an item of clothing doesn't mean some people aren't entitled to wear it.

I passionately believe that people can and should be able to choose to wear what they like within the law, but the caveat is that that they then have to accept the consequences of that choice.

I think the Thurrock Shopping Centre were within their rights to refuse entry to lads wearing Hoodies, and Headfield Church of England Junior School, in West Yorkshire is fully entitled to refuse to employ a teacher who wishes to wear the full veil; and a Conservative Club is entitled to refuse me entry if I am wearing jeans against their dress code as happened recently in Torbay.

Spending time as I do in West London it has been very noticeable this year just how many women are now wearing hajabs and veils - what was once a minority adornement amongst British Muslims has rapidly become the vast majority in some communities.

I believe they are choosing to do so as a reaction -as an act of defiance- agains the negative press their religion has been recieving since the July 7th bombings last year.

This is an age-old issue. As many ageing millionaire pop artists will tell you, the best way to boost your support is to be banned by the establishment and vilified by the Daily Mail.

We forget that lesson at our peril.

1 comment:

eatdrinksouthdevon said...

We're all wearing uniforms, ritual dress and whatever all the time - am I reacting to wearing a suit today? Our clothes express both a sense of solidarity and a notion of 'other' at the same time. But still the argument over turbans and school uniform in the 80s was less viscious. Is it because we can only see their eyes? Does this give them more power or less? It's an interesting religio/socio/political debate. But the underlying issue is I suppose that these people feel entrenched and I doubt if the current focus on their dress code will make them feel any less so. So, despite my love of free expression, my loathing of organised religion (along with a sense of the way organised religion can help tie notions of culture together) along with my respect for all manner of beliefs, leaves me hoping that the debate, at least, won't be veiled. Do you wear your jeans religious?