The brouhaha that greeted Jack Straw`s revelation that he asks Muslim women who come to see him in his constituency office dressed in the Hijab to reveal their faces was to be expected.Personally, i think the whole debate is a storm in a tea-pot.
If any Muslim lady chooses to cover herself from head to sole that is her prerogative. Some folks argue that foreign women living in or visiting Islamic countries respect the local sartorial code thus Muslim women living here should be made to dress like their Western peers.I do not subscribe to this view at all.Two wrongs do not make a right.If we were to adopt this approach,whereby the state decides what you can and can not wear ,what then would be the difference between the the UK and other authoritarian societies? We might as well substitute the Labour Party for The Taliban.Any state intervention in such matters to my mind would not only make us guilty of hypocrisy - denouncing authocratic,oppresive regimes abroad while borrowing from their philosophy when it makes us more convenient but perhaps more poignantly negate the most fundamental bedrock of democracy:the freedom of individual choice.
However,if a Muslim woman works in an environment that requires a standard uniform ,then i dont think she should be allowed to wear anything else but the uniform as worn by other members of staff.The choice is clear and simple- wear your Hijab or whatever you please but once you to work you must present yourself in accordance with the image policy of your employers.If the employer rules out covering your face then thats it.That is not bigotry or racism at all.
You have a choice of taking the position and comply with the stipulation or look for one that accomodates your fashion style.Period.
I remain somewhat skeptical of Jack Staw`s motives in raising the issue at this particular time the way he did.One thing i am certain of however is that politicians always seek to make gains from issues and causes.They are less concerned about real progress or solutions.I can hazard a few guesses why old Jack came out with the veil palaver but i wont bother.Know any?