Monday, 25 April 2011

Hardly news - Telegraph dog whistling about Islam

I note a bit of a fracas about an alleged claim from the Muslim Council of Britain, about the vexed issue of Islamic women wearing veils.

From Eye-on-Islam, as representative:
As Andrew Gilligan has noted today at the Telegraph, a document on the website of the Muslim Council of Britain (which you can read in full here - I have saved it for re-upload in case an embarassed MCB tries to bury it) declares that the obligation for Muslim women to wear the veil is "not open to debate" (1)
Only, of course, It Isn't That Simple.

Now, in fairness to the Telegraph, it doesn't actually say what Eye-on-Islam claims it says (2). Nor does the MCB.

If you actually read the statement from the latter, it acknowledges in its very first point that there are "differences and opinions about the veil" in the Muslim community (3).

The document is actually reminding Muslims of the status of the veil as an Islamic artefact, not whether it should be worn or not. It is reminding Muslims that it has been identified as a part of Islamic practice (within which there are graduations, from compulsory through to the merely praiseworthy) and - IMPORTANT BIT - it is warning people wanting to take part in the debate not to deny that it is an Islamic practice. It's denying this, not the not wearing of a veil, that is identified as a potentially serious lapse.

So what the statement is actually saying is that Muslims must acknowledge the veil is an Islamic symbol - I'd tend to disagree with them there - not that wearing a veil is compulsory. In fact, they call on Muslims not to cause strife about it when it becomes an issue:
We would like to advise the sisters who observe the veil/niqab in the work-place or in educational premises to avoid making it a matter of dispute between them and their employers or school authority. Such disputes will attract more unnecessary media attention, and thus may cause various negative consequences including the imposition of certain dress codes in work places, and in turn, used as justification to legislate further restrictions on wearing it in other areas.
In other words, don't make an issue of it - certain Christian electricians should take heed of this (4) - and ditch it if your boss asks you.

It is interesting to speculate why the Telegraph decided to run this stoyy now - the MCB exhortation is actually quite old, originally published in 2006.

One can't help but wonder if it is something to do with recent burblings by David Cameron about immigration and integration (5).

It's classic dog whistling stuff. The Telegraph presents some very old news, made topical by events in France and the ruminations of David Cameron - who has a bit of form for this sort of thing himself (6) - which is diligently repeated, and exaggerated, by the interweb squealers and water cooler crusaders.
1 - "MCB: Women Who Don't Veil Are Disbelievers" posted by Ben on the Eye On Islam blog, 17th of April, 2011. (http://eye-on-islam.blogspot.com/2011/04/mcb-women-who-dont-veil-are.html)
2 - "Muslim Council: women cannot debate wearing veil," by Andrew Gilligan. Published in The Telegraph, 16th of April, 2011. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8455955/Muslim-Council-women-cannot-debate-wearing-veil.html)
3 - "Joint statement about the veil from Muslim groups, scholars and leaders," by Dr Daud Abdullah
et al. Published on the Muslim Council of Britain website, 25th of October, 2006. (http://www.mcb.org.uk/features/features.php?ann_id=1543)
4 - As described elsewhere on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2011/04/british-christians-unmartyred.html
5 - "Immigrants must learn English, says David Cameron – while cutting funding for lessons," by Samira Shackle. Published in The New Statesman blog, 14th of April 2011(http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/04/speech-integration-core)
6 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2008/02/tory-dog-whistling-on-holocaust.html

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