Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Dr Nazreen challenges Philip Hollobone MP, supporter of UK burqa ban, to a real debate on women’s oppression
London UK, 27th July 2010 – As burqa bans are debated across various European parliaments, particular UK politicians have also expressed their desire for the face veil to be banned from public spaces in Britain. These include Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering and members from the UK Independence Party. Most proponents of a ban have justified their stance on the basis that the garment is an affront to women’s dignity, secludes them from society and is a symbol of male subjugation of women.
In light of this, letters have been sent from the Women’s Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain to Philip Hollobone, and to the UKIP members Nigel Farage and Lord Pearson who have advocated burqa bans, challenging them to an open debate on the true causes of women’s oppression in the 21st Century.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, “For too long, attacks on the Muslim woman’s dress have been used as a smokescreen to woo right wing voters and hide deeply held racial prejudices. The hijab and niqab have often been used by secular governments as a convenient scapegoat to which various social ills including community division have been attributed. Feminist rhetoric has long been employed by Western politicians for cheap political ends. This current attack on the burqa is no different.”
“While claiming that religious dress codes that reflect modes of modesty are outdated and oppressive, these politicians ignore the objectification of women’s bodies in ‘Lad’s magazines’, pornography, lap dancing clubs, advertising, and the entertainment industry in capitalist liberal societies, all permitted under the premise of freedom of expression and driven by the pursuit of profit. It is these actions that have dehumanised, devalued, and degraded women. Surely, for those who have a sincere concern for women’s rights, raising a debate in their parliaments regarding these ways of denigrating women should surely be more pressing than a few hundred women covering their faces out of religious devotion within their societies. Furthermore, it is not without irony that various ‘male’ politicians, who have described the burqa as a symbol of the subjugation of women by men, see it fit to exert their male patriarchy to dictate to women how they should and should not dress.”
“The veil may have been labelled a ‘symbol of oppression’ but calls for bans of Islamic dress are clearly a ‘symbol of failure’ to convince Muslim women intellectually to adopt Western liberal values and of having lost the argument. So, are politicians who use talk of gender equality and women’s rights to support a burqa ban really willing to put their convictions to the test by engaging in open debate about the true causes of women’s oppression, or is it just easier to simply hide behind the veil?”
Dr Nazreen’s letter to Philip Hollobone can be read here .