Sunday, August 28, 2005

Auditioning for Super-Liberator (Audition 1)

Matthew Parris must be yearning for a full postbag. Several British commentators seem to have been let off their leashes of late in commenting on multiculturalism and what they determine as the failure of minority cultures to integrate and become 'European' or 'British' or 'Dutch' etc.

In Sydney recently Matthew was stunned at his own reaction to seeing a muslim woman out with her family on a day trip - she was fully veiled. He felt it was wrong (not his reaction to this but the veiling). And he got paid to tell us this. He did not talk to the woman, he just made his mind up and decided that in Western societies women should not cover up.

It had failed to get through to this family and perhaps to the
community from which they came that in a Western country, for a person to be swathed in cloth so that only the eyes can be seen, simply won’t do; and that when, consciously or unconsciously, a woman may be under pressure to do this,
then it doubly won’t do. There should be no pressure on a woman to hide her face. It is outrageous.

So this woman immediately becomes foreign and non-western in one sentence - again he has not spoken to her and does not know otherwise. He defines what is western and what is European whether he means to or not but I guess he means it.

I am sure letters to The Times in the coming days will talk about the importance of the veil to women in safety, security and respect. I look forward to feminist Islamic scholars pointing out the issues of choice and rights and dignity and respect. The latter in particular seems lacking in Parris's column. In fact its arrogant and offensive to the very women he is rushing to protect or unveil. And its offensive to those who welcome the notion of a Europe of all cultures, faiths and beliefs and have long left aside the image of Europe as a white Christian monolith.


At 10:26, Blogger F said...

If I can suggest another interesting audition filled with hyperbole, generalisations and inaccuracies I would suggest Tony D'Amato's posts on 'The Most Important Human Right' in Opinio Juris:


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