By Fazila Bhimji (auth.)
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Extra resources for British Asian Muslim Women, Multiple Spatialities and Cosmopolitanism
Following this comment, many newspapers ran sensational headlines such as ‘Fire on the streets; debate over Muslim dress could trigger riots, race chief warns (Daily Mail, 23 October 2006); ‘Jack Straw: lift your veils’ (Sun, 6 October 2006); ‘Anger as Straw tells Muslim women to take off their veils’ (Daily Mail, 5 October 2006); ‘The veil is a symbol of women’s subjugation’ (Mirror, 16 October 2006); ‘Full Muslim veils hinder integration’ (Evening Standard, 6 October 2006). In the stories that followed the headlines there was virtually no mention of the fact that only a very small percentage of Muslim women wear the full niqab.
In order to acquire varying perspectives, in addition to the MYF, I also decided to attend a study circle that met regularly in a mosque located in the suburbs of North Manchester where the population predominantly consisted of British South Asians. Unlike the regenerated city centre with refurbished apartment buildings, where the MYF was situated, this area was largely suburban, working class, with an ethnically diverse population. The women who attended the circles were largely homemakers or worked part time and several of them were married with children.
For example, in an editorial piece by Saira Khan in the Mirror, she expressed the following opinion: Every single Muslim woman should make it their priority to educate themselves, and the next generation on the limitations of the veil. Full face veils – niqabs – reinforce the segregation between Muslims and the rest of the population. They’re not even a requirement of Islam and are far more of a political statement than a religious one. I think a lot of 44 British Asian Muslim Women people share Jack Straw’s voice but have been too scared about political correctness to voice their opinions before.
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