Separation and Unity

I have been thinking about Jack Straw comments on the veil. I know that a lot of Muslims have been taking this as an attack. Jack Straw is an MP and how else can they see his statements. The last few years have been full of statements that some Muslims have seen as offensive.

I read the article and seen the interview. I think that people have to read all the comments and see the interview before talking about the debate.

This quote really stuck in my head.

Would she, however, think hard about what I said - in particular about my concern that wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult.

It was such a visible statement of separation and of difference.

I thought the whole point of a women living in the west wearing a niqab is to be separate and different. I thought it was a statement making it clear they are a Muslim, and how they feel about men and women mixing. I would think that wearing a Niqab is a clear rejection of some of the values of our cultures.

If that is true, it leads us to the really important debate. It is not if a woman should be able to wear a nijab or not. The real debate is about how much duties do these women have to participate in society. In the BBC interview Jack Straw talks about parallel society and the cohesion of community. I am going to give Jack Straw the benefit of the doubt and not look for hidden motivations. I think there is a debate here.

From where I stand, one of the great freedoms of western liberal democracy is the right not to participate. We have the right to withdraw from society. We have the right to make clear visible statement of separation and of difference. Everyone in the West has the right to say "I am not like you" and choose to be apart.

Doing this comes at some peril. Groups of people who disengage from societies are easy to paint as "The Other." It is easy to scapegoat them and they often have few allies in the society. I can see that it is worth it to do what is right for your religion and let the societal things work themselves out.

I do not think Jack Straw was smart to make these comments. I think that his comments get lost in ideas of power and power-plays. People are going to talk about his motivations. Other people are going to use the comments for their own motivations. The substance and the debate will get lost in people being insulted and feeling under attack.

If I am making a mistake here please tell me. For this entry I am willing to republish any relevant comments in another post. Now I just wish I had a way to get Muslim women to read this blog and comment on it.

Jack Straw You Tube Search


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