Beyond the Veil
Few controversies divide Europe more deeply than the question of the Muslim veil. But is it the mark of separation it seems?
by Fareena Alam
Nov. 27, 2006 issue – The Dutch government just announced that it’s seeking to ban the Muslim veil in public places. The Vatican has declared that veiling shows disrespect for local cultures and sensibilities. German officials in North Rhine-Westphalia say they will discipline Muslim teachers who wear headscarves in defiance of a ban imposed in May. In Britain, Jack Straw recently threw fuel on the fire by suggesting that this bit of traditional Muslim garb “separates people” and hinders integration. “Communication requires that both sides see each other’s face,” said Britain’s former foreign minister, displaying a mastery of cross-cultural sen-sitivity. “You not only hear what people say, but you also see what they mean.” British Muslims immediately wondered how Straw’s former cabinet colleague, ex-Home secretary David Blunkett?blind since birth?ever did his job.
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