>In The News: British Official Criticizes Muslim Veil

>In a news article published in The Washing Post on October 6, it is reported that Jack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary in the Blair government, suggested that the veiling of Muslim women causes racial separation in British society.

In his  remarks, Jack Straw, who now serves as the leader of the House of Commons, criticized the Islamic custom of women wearing a full facial veil.  Straw urged Muslim women to remove the veil when talking to him.  According to Straw, the veil is “a visible statement of separation and of difference” which can put in jeopardy social harmony in British society.

The following is an excerpt of the news report published in The Washington Post:

Britain has been plunged into a debate over Islamic integration after revelations that former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asks Muslim women visiting his office to remove their veils and a Muslim policeman was excused from guarding the Israeli Embassy.

The uproars have left many questioning whether Britain’s multicultural ideals can withstand the strains of a cultural divide that is increasingly tormenting much of Europe.

Straw said in a newspaper column published Thursday that he believes the veils favored by some Muslim women inhibit communication and are a sign of division in society. At his constituency office, he said he asks that veiled women reveal their faces, adding that the women have always complied, and a female assistant is always present. On Friday, British media quoted Straw as going further _ saying that he would prefer that Muslim women not wear veils at all.

“I just find it uncomfortable if I’m trying to have a conversation with someone whose face I can’t see,” Straw told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Read the complete article by clicking here.

The veiling of women has already caused problems in American society.  In Florida, a judge has allowed Muslim women to wear the veil while taking their picture for their driver’s license.

What do you think about this issue?  Leave a comment and let us dialogue on this issue.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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2 Responses to >In The News: British Official Criticizes Muslim Veil

  1. Anonymous says:

    >Unforunately, this is an issue of different cultural backgrounds. Westernerns veiw the veil as a symbol of male dominance, which historically is not far off in Islamic history. However, Islamic women today do not necessarily wear the Hijab, out of respect for men, yet due to their willingness to submit to what they believe is the proper conduct as prescribed in their religious tradition. I have met members from the same family where one female decides to wear it, while the other does not. Like I said earlier it is a matter of different cultural understandings. At the same time, I do not mean to imply that Muslim women are not being forced to wear the veil in various parts of the country. For a country like Britain, which gives freedom of religion, should accept the tradition of the women. However, the case of the judge granting Islamic women to take their pictures taken for their driver’s license with the veil is simply ludicrious. There are limitations. The reason for having a picture on a driver’s license to identify the person, which in this case defeats the very reason to have a picture. In the case of Jack Straw, is an example of an extreme, we see another case of extreme, but only on the opposing side. There needs to be a happy medium.

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  2. fencekicker says:

    >I think anonymous has made some good points which I agree with. It is a little surprising to me that a foreign secretary (whether former or current) would be so uncomfortable with an expression of foreign culture or be intimidated by any statement of separation or difference. Foreign is afterall practically defined as ‘different’ and ‘separate.’ If a woman willfully wears a veil or headcovering, then it is our problem if we aren’t comfortable with it, not hers. -fencekicker

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