News and commentary by: Whymrhymer
Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (now an MP) has raised the ire of many Muslims (not very hard to do nowadays) by stating very clearly in a newspaper article that he is uncomfortable talking to a Muslim woman when he can’t see her face. When he meets with Muslim woman wearing veils, which he does regularly (approximately 25% of his district is Muslim), he asks them to remove their veils.
So much for Jack Straw’s preferences — he certainly has a right to them, but on the other hand, Muslim women have a right to their veils.
The Koran instructs Muslims to dress modestly and the common interpretation of modesty for Muslim women is either the scarf covering the hair and neck or the scarf combined with a face veil and, usually, gloves.
Terminology Alert: Most news articles refer to the face veil as a “hijab,” this is incorrect. The hijab is the scarf that covers the hair and neck, the scarf with the veil (and gloves) is called a “niqab.”
When Mr. Straw made an issue out of Muslim custom and dress he certainly knew that he was inviting controversy and demands for an apology. Perhaps the controversy is for the best — people (Muslims) should be made aware that their style of dress does make many people uncomfortable and by dressing that way they are setting up barriers between themselves and the culture they are living in. Its their choice of course to set up those barriers and some say they have no choice; they are following their religion. The demands for an apology, however, go beyond their religious dictates — Muslims who want to be accepted for who and what they are must, in turn, accept the fact that every culture has its own standards and its own preferences; if you operate outside of those standards you will be, by your own choice, an outcast. That may not be politically correct but its reality.
Muslims who don’t want the criticism they receive from the Europeans, British, Americans, or others should stay in their own country. World travelers subject themselves to the views, opinions and laws of the areas where they travel.