At Comment is Free Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, defends Jack Straw’s offensive and insensitive statements on the niqab:
“Straw defended women’s right to wear less intrusive headscarves; yet he also argued that something is seriously wrong when, in conversation with another person, one cannot engage in face-to-face interaction. Straw was saying that to wear the nijab is a decision to close yourself off from everyone around you….
“As he pointed out, wearing the nijab is not commanded by the Koran and represents a cultural choice, not a religious duty. So long as other ways are available for Muslim women to cover their heads, agreeing not to wear the nijab is a way of signifying one’s membership in a liberal society at minimal cost to one’s religious commitments.”
So, problem sorted then. Though some of us might note the quite stunning arrogance of Christians like Wolfe lecturing adherents of another faith on the nature of their religious duties.
Interviewed in yesterday’s Daily Mail, the Tories’ new shadow minister for community cohesion, Sayeeda Warsi, answered this sort of arrogance rather well: “… when Jack Straw stood up and said, ‘You should not wear the face veil’ I thought, oh my gosh, we now have white men standing up and telling us what to do. And I really thought that men should just butt out of women’s wardrobes.”