‘Why the sight of veiled women offends me’

Deborah Orr“I’ve been more and more troubled lately by the sight of veiled women swathed in heavy black, getting on with their everyday business in Britain. A woman on the bus the other day looked like she was auditioning for an Islamic version of the Blues Brothers, with the only part of her body uncovered by her drapes, hidden behind very black sunglasses….

“Multiculturalism tells us that it is rude and insensitive to be critical of such garb, and that we must tolerate and even celebrate difference. But I’m afraid I find that the sort of difference these women proclaim by getting themselves up in these sinister weeds to be deeply offensive.

“I understand that in a free society they are entitled to dress as they please, just as I am. But I also understand that in a free society I am at liberty to say that the values these outfits imply are repulsive and insulting to me.”

Deborah Orr in the Independent, 8 July 2006