Scotland and the veil

When a gang of youths launched a terrifying attack on a young Scottish Muslim family in broad daylight, the victims were left in no doubt about why they were targeted: the veil. Glasgow-born Samina Ansari and her loved ones were assaulted because she was wearing a traditional Islamic hijab, which covers the hair, but not the face.

It happened last year, when Ansari, her husband and their baby were driving along a main road. The gang, armed with bricks and chains and accompanied by a snarling dog, surrounded the car, shouting “get the Paki bastards” and “go back to your own country”, before attempting to smash the car windows.

Samina locked the doors while her husband frantically dialled 999, fearing for the safety of the baby in the back seat. One man brought the chain down on to the windscreen, while another tried to smash in through the passenger window. Luckily, the young Muslim mother was able to speed off when the men moved away from the front of the car.

“It was racist,” she said. “But it was also Islamophobic. It only lasted a minute-and-a-half, but the trauma lingered for months. I felt too scared to go out walking with my baby in a pram. It was horrible.”

The trauma of the attack pushed Samina into launching a campaign to educate the Scottish public about the veil and Muslim women’s decision to wear it. She accepts she faces an uphill struggle. Across Europe, hostility is growing against this most visible sign of Islamic faith, with many seeing it as provocative and political, or a sign of male oppression and the subservience of women.

Samina Ansari and the charity she works for, Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, have made a documentary, Hijab – The Light Behind the Veil, to promote their reasons for wearing the hijab and describing the prejudice they face for donning a veil on a day-to-day basis.

At the launch of the film, politicians, police officers and community leaders gathered to watch it in the hope of gaining a greater understanding of Muslim women’s faith. The film will be distributed to public bodies to help teach state officials about the veil in the words of Islamic women.

Sunday Herald, 17 April 2011

Unfortunately, presumably in the interest of “balance”, the report finds it necessary to quote mad Maryam Namazie of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran on the veil:

“Is wearing it a choice for women, given you have an Islamic movement gaining political power and making it compulsory wherever they can? … I think the full-face-covering niqab should be banned. We also need to stand up to Islamism’s demands to restrict rights for citizens in society.”