‘Veil Wars’ reveal Europe’s intolerance

“Europe’s traditions of secular tolerance appear to be haunted by the Islamic veil. Every week seems to bring new headlines announcing moves to crack down on the wearing of what critics appear to deem this most alienating symbol of Muslim faith, whether in French public schools, British government buildings or out in public in the Netherlands.

“But is European tolerance more threatened by hijab head-scarf, or even the face-covering niqab … or by the hypocrisy and low-grade xenophobia of those telling Muslim women that this attack on their religious practice is really for their own good? Beneath all the reminders of secularist tradition and progressive discourse cited in Europe’s headscarf debate lies the mean, provincial ‘not in our country, you don’t’ attitude – even when many of the women at whom it’s addressed to were born and raised in ‘our country’.”

Bruce Crumley in Time Magazine, 24 November 2006