Radio Debate: Should the Niqab (veil) be banned in Britain?

A Radio Debate for Voice of Russia UK

A few days ago, I was invited onto Voice of Russia UK Radio to participate in a debate regarding whether the Niqab (face veil) should be banned in Britain, along with Nabila Ramdani (journalist), Julie Bindel (feminist), and Dr Taj Hargey. You can listen to this debate in the Youtube clip below.

Nabila Ramdani explained the problems and dangers that Britain would face if they followed in the footsteps of France and imposed any such ban. Julie Bindel, while she didn’t think the Niqab should be banned, expressed her abhorrence toward the idea of veiling women from men and thought that the idea of veiling in of itself should be challenged. Neither Nabila, Julie nor myself thought that the Niqab should be legislated against. However it took Dr Taj Hargey a while to express himself, and the jury’s out on whether he thought that it should be legislated against.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with Dr Taj Hargey, it is important to understand that his views and actions have a record of being controversial and unpopular amongst the Muslim community, and considered somewhat bizarre and attention-seeking. Dr Taj Hargey describes himself as an “Imam” (i.e. leader). He has, however, been described by others as the “Anjem Choudhury of ‘Modernist Islam'” and a “House Muslim”. In the past, he has not only called for a banning of the burka, but has also staged a burka burning celebration as a mark of “collective disgust and disdain” toward it. Earlier this year, he claimed that “[t]he most egregious non-Qur’anic symbols […] include face-masks, headscarves, beards, pyjama-like robes, etc.” He continues to justify his position by claiming that the niqab is not from (his interpretation of) Islam, but is instead a “tribal rag”.

What Dr Taj Hargey does not seem to understand is that it is not for the British government to pass a fatwa on what is or is not part of Islam. Rather, the attack on the veil is part of an age-old colonial tactic of using feminist misogyny to claim that Muslim women must be oppressed (just because they’re women), and to justify the fascist attempts to discredit and undermine Islam overall. Today, it is the niqab under fire, tomorrow it will be the hijab.

At the very least, Dr Taj Hargey’s position does show that it certainly isn’t our “Imams”, or Muslim men, forcing Muslim women to cover up. It is unfortunate that liberal extremists (or “progressive Muslims”), such as Taj Hargey, seem to want to lead the way in this xenophobic, and perverted, crusade against Muslims under the name of Islam.

Guest speakers:
Zara Faris – Researcher and Speaker for the Muslim Debate Initiative
Nabila Ramdani – Award-winning journalist, specialising in Islamic affairs
Julie Bindel – Author and founder of Justice for Women
Dr Taj Hargey – Director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford

Juliet Spare

17 September 2013


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