Unedited version column of Scottish Sun on Sunday 29th September 2013
BAN THE VEIL – REALLY?
A national debate on banning the Niqab in public places kicked off after a High Court Judge ruled an accused had to remove her face veil in court.
The idea that anyone should be allowed to give evidence in court with their face covered was ridiculous and I say that both as lawyer and a Muslim.
As lawyers we usually ask the Jury to take account of the manner in which witnesses give evidence and the need to see an accused’s face is critical to a fair trial.
How would that be possible if all you could see was a pair of eyes? Despite the hype there has never been a similar case in Scottish courts.
It also turns out that the accused in the English case goes by the name of Rebekah Dawson and most likely a convert to Islam rather than an immigrant as was automatically assumed.
As for doctors wearing a full face veil, there aren’t any in Scotland. Those in England consist of a handful who already remove it out of personal choice to carry out their duties.
For most a common sense approach works without any need for bans.
Much of the furore stems from an assumption that the woman who covers her face has no choice, told to do so by a cruel father or jealous husband.
Yet this is not Saudi Arabia, in the UK a significant number do so out of choice, and some families are often hostile to their daughters donning the veil.
I for one have never understood why anyone would want to cut themselves off from society by wearing a black cloak with a gap for their eyes.
But there is nothing provocative or unique about such ‘bizarre’ behaviour, some women choose to cut off their hair, take a vow of celibacy and consider themselves to be Brides of Christ, living separately from society in convents- so what?
99.9% of UK Muslim women do not wear a veil. In fact they are not supposed to cover their faces during prayers or pilgrimage to Mecca.
But despite that most Muslims oppose a ban because they are fearful of where it will all end.
In 2012 France introduced a criminal law banning ‘face coverings’on public transport, museums, streets, shops and parks.
Today it is illegal for a woman to go veiled to a hospital or even collect her child from school.
The punishment is a 150 Euro fine and being frogmarched to your local police station for identification and citizenship lessons.
Of the 6 million Muslims in France the ban only affects between 367 to 2000 women, but since the ban was introduced it has led to an increase in violence and discrimination against the women they supposedly wanted to ‘liberate’.
Women have had the veil torn from their faces, been kicked of trains and buses, kicked out of their children’s schools and suffer systematic vilification.
The practical effect of a ban is ‘house arrest’ for women who do not comply, isolating them even further from society.
France has now turned its attention to women who wear a headscarf, the ‘Hijab’.
Across the country they are being banned from accompanying their children on school trips or nursery outings and in Paris last month a pregnant woman attacked for her hijab lost her baby a few days later.
The Taliban used to dictate what Afghani women should wear, shutting down schools for girls, driving women from the workplace and abusing them when they ventured out onto a public street, the irony of this appears to be lost on those who now call for a ban on the veils.
It was great source of embarrassment this week when my son at his new school refused to recognise his Uncle Z, sent to pick him up from school.
He told his teachers point blank I don’t know who that man is, just so that he could get some extra time in the after-school club.
Luckily the police were not called, but I suspect that Uncle Z will not be volunteering for a school run in the future.
Selfridges & EDL
I’m glad to see that Selfridges lifted the suspension of the shop assistant Mo who refused service to Tommy Robinson leader of the Far Right English Defence League and his pal.
The thug said ‘you won’t serve my friend because he’s friends with me…and I’m in the EDL’.
Caught on camera by the EDL leader, the assistant is heard saying ‘you can film me all you want mate but I’m not serving you’.
Selfridges suspended the assistant who had a seven year unblemished record and gave Robinson and his pal a slap up meal in their champagne and caviar bar.
The assistant should get a medal for giving the leader of the ‘wannabe master race’ a taste of his own medicine, as for his pal he should remember the saying if ‘you sleep with dogs you get fleas’.
A few hours later the convicted criminal got kicked out of a casino in Milton Keynes, and the Oxford Union cancelled his appearance, so it’s not just Scotland that these nutters get kicked out off.