When in Rome

While politicians in France and Belgium have voted in favour of banning the full veil, or ‘niqab’, and other European countries are thought to be considering similar action, the latest report by the government think-tank Civitas says Britain should take a different approach.

In a report entitled Women, Islam and Western Liberalism, Mrs Aleena Malik asserts that the full-face veil is a part of the British way of life.

Opponents of the veil claim it oppresses women and constructs a barrier between those who wear such dress and the rest of society.

There is much to be said for ‘freedom of dress’ in a similar way as people desire ‘freedom of speech’, although that’s a long way off, but if such a view is upheld, it could turn into yet another case of a two-tier system in society.

If there is to be a ‘freedom of dress’, then it should not be just for one section of society but for everyone. That would mean no banning ‘hoodies’, baseball caps or other forms of clothing worn by a particular section of society as is currently the case in many areas.

Similarly, should one wish to wander around wearing a military-style balaclava with just two eye-holes and a small breathing hole, fair enough. It is not unlike the full-face veil, after all.

However, no doubt it will, as usual, end up as one rule for the indigenous population and another (less strict) rule, or exception, for the rest. Whatever happened to: when in Rome….?

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