That the headline to an article in today’s Times. It comes as no surprise that the “imam” in question is that pompous, self-promoting nonentity Taj Hargey, whose speciality is giving support to attacks on the rights of his fellow Muslims.
In a letter to the paper (see below) Hargey opines that “no one, including women, has an unqualified right to dress as one pleases in public” and declares that a “Saudi-financed campaign” is responsible for some Muslim women deciding to wear the niqab:
“This Saudi-financed campaign is just another salvo in the battle for the hearts and minds of British Muslims. If Britain’s liberal and human rights industry fail to recognise this, we will all live to regret it.”
In his letter Hargey calls on the British government to follow the example of France and “outlaw this Wahhabi-Salafi inspired trend”.
The report of Hargey’s intervention, by Dominic Kennedy, carries the following postscript: “This article has been chosen as today’s Talking Point by The Times community team for the quality of the comments left by readers.”
Again, it is hardly surprising that the majority of those comments are vehemently opposed to the right to wear the niqab. As one contributor pointed out:
“A pretty one-sided debate for ‘Talking Point’. Of nearly 200 posts so far only 3 individuals apparently arguing from a libertarian viewpoint seem to agree with Shami Chakrabarti that it should be acceptable for Islamic women to cover their faces in public.”
Sample comments: “Yes. Ban it. And hurrah for Dr Hargey.” “Ban it and dissolve the ideology underpinning it.” “This monstrous instrument of human, specifically female obviously, enslavement should be banned immediately.” “Ban it. It’s terrifying. It could be a man or a woman under the black garb packing explosives, knives, machetes or firearms.”
Another contributor calls for Muslim men to be banned from public pools because many Muslim women don’t participate in mixed-gender swimming sessions: “If your women aren’t allowed in, then you shouldn’t be either.”
This is what passes for “quality” debate at the Times.
UK Imam condemns full-face veil as an imported Saudi fad
By Dominic Kennedy
The Muslim face veil is branded an “archaic tribal rag” today by a prominent imam who says that Britain should follow France’s example and ban it.
Taj Hargey praised the European Court of Human Rights forupholding a French law that requires people to show their faces in public.
Dr Hargey’s attack on the full-face veil is the strongest so far by a British Muslim leader. In a letter to The Times, he puts himself at odds with the London-based civil liberties group Liberty, which urged Strasbourg to allow women to wear the veil.
The European Court’s decision opens the door for Westminster to impose a similar ban. The only mainstream British party that has so far proposed to outlaw veils was Ukip in 2010, but that policy was later said to have been dropped.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, responded to this week’s judgment saying: “How do you liberate women by criminalising their clothing? Banning the veil has nothing to do with gender equality and everything to do with rising racism in western Europe.”
Dr Hargey, from the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, said however that the British establishment had been hoodwinked by zealots who claimed that the burka was intrinsic to Islam. He writes: “There is no Koranic mandate for female facial masks; it is not culturally common for Pakistani women to conceal their faces; and no one, including women, has an unqualified right to dress as one pleases in public.”
He condemns the veil as an imported Saudi fad that should be rejected for religious, social, sexist, security and health reasons. “This Saudi-financed campaign is just another salvo in the battle for the hearts and minds of British Muslims. If Britain’s liberal and human rights industry fail to recognise this, we will all live to regret it.”
The Strasbourg case was brought by a Pakistani woman in France, where the ban has already led to social unrest. A 22-year-old male Muslim convert was given a suspended jail sentence this week for violently opposing a police check on his wife, who was wearing a niqab in Paris. His arrest led to nights of violence involving hundreds of youths.
Theresa May, the home secretary, has ruled out a ban on the full veil but Jeremy Browne, the former home office minister, has called for a national debate about whether girls should be compelled to cover their faces.
An imam points out that the burka is not required by the Koran and should be outlawed in public in the UK
Sir, It is commendable that the European Court of Human Rights has upheld the French ban on wearing the burka in public.
It is significant that this funded test case was brought against the French government by a Pakistani-origin citizen who claimed the burka ban violated (in telling sequence) her religious, cultural and personal rights.
This is untrue. There is no Koranic mandate for female facial masks; it is not culturally common for Pakistani women to conceal their faces; and no one, including women, has an unqualified right to dress as one pleases in public.
For too long the British establishment has been hoodwinked by Muslim zealots that the burka/niqab is intrinsic to Islam. It is nothing of the sort: it is pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and ipso facto un-Muslim.
For this reason alone, all right-thinking people should reject this imported Saudi fad on compelling religious, social, sexist, security and health grounds.
If Muslim women are banned from hiding their faces in Mecca or when they perform their daily prayers, why is this archaic tribal rag given any legitimacy in contemporary Britain?
The UK should also outlaw this Wahhabi-Salafi inspired trend. This Saudi-financed campaign is just another salvo in the battle for the hearts and minds of British Muslims. If Britain’s liberal and human rights industry fails to recognise this, we will all live to regret it.
Dr T Hargey
Imam, Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford