Face Veil Is A Barrier To Integration


 “I do not like it to be a symbol of Islam as the fanatics Abuqatada, Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri who have become the voice of Islam. I want Muslims to build bridges. Islam encourages engagement and not segregation. Muslims should use wisdom on the question of the veil,” he said.


“Some 57% of the British public believe that Muslims should do more to integrate into the British society.”


Ahmed cautioned against the current situation of Muslim communities in Britain saying that the face veil adversely affected their image.


“The niqab became a sign of defiance. It was banned in Holland and I do not want it to be banned in the UK. British Muslims have fought during the World War II and participated in rebuilding their countries after the war. Islam is a religion of moderation and not extremism,” Ahmed said, adding that he had no objections to tourists wearing the niqab.


However, Aisha Ismael, a veiled British teacher, maintained that wearing the face veil was her personal choice. She blamed the bad image of Muslims for what she called an “ignorance of the Islamic culture and lack of understanding of what the veil stood for”.


“It is not the veil that separates. It is ignorance. I am not harming any one by wearing the niqab. I am fully integrated into the society. I am a teacher and a community activist. I visit the gym and supermarkets,” she said.


Reem Maghribi, who is the founder of Al-Sharq, an English lifestyle magazine for British Arabs, argued that the face veil was not obligatory on women saying that many British people began to think of Muslims in the UK as “the other”.


“The face veil is not in the Holy Qur’an. We are not required to wear it. I observe the five fundamentals of Islam. It is not in our benefit to put more barriers. Niqab wearers infringe on the rights of others as the veil has become a sign of extremism.


“It was proved that the veil hinders integration. Our identity is being used against us. Muslims have bigger issues to fight.”


Asked if she was opting for an outright ban on wearing the niqab, Maghribi said she did not want it to be outlawed. However, she wished that there was a legislation banning children from wearing it.

“I think when a 12-year old girl is ordered to wear the veil, this conveys a message that she is a sexual object that should be covered.”


Ahmed Yunis, who is former national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in the US, argued that the current perceptions about the veil in the West raised questions about the pluralistic claims of some Western society.


“Symbols alone cannot separate. It is the concepts. I think that the current analysis of the veil as a threat to the identity of the West would merely enhance the clash of civilisations and increase violence,” he said.

Yunis stressed that a person was not required to sacrifice his personal choices for the sake of the dominant culture of the society.


“I am one hundred per cent a US citizen and one hundred per cent a Muslim. I never felt that there was a contradiction between the two.”


As most of the questions raised by the audience challenged the motion supported by Lord Ahmed and Maghribi, it was felt at one stage that the house would vote against the motion.


When a member of the audience , who introduced herself as a former niqab wearer asked the Debates chairman Tim Sebastian how she infringed on his rights by wearing a veil, he refused to respond.


The wife of HH the Emir, HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad and Qatar University president Dr Sheikha Abdullah al-Misnad were among the dignitaries who attended the session.

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