/ Are Tories actually Islamaphobic?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Stuart (aka brt) 26 Nov 2019

BBC News - General election 2019: Muslim Council criticises Tories over Islamophobia
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50561043

1
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
Mike Stretford 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> BBC News - General election 2019: Muslim Council criticises Tories over Islamophobiahttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50561043

There' a fair few Islamaphopes in the Tory party.

Also the party of Windrush scandal, actually deported British citizens who went onto die because they didn't get the medical attention they needed.

Oh, and their leader referred to black people as 'picaninies' with 'watermelonon' smiles.

You would think that would put Corbyn's admittedly  poor handling of antisemitism in perspective.

8
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
Stuart (aka brt) 26 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

You're on a roll here! 👍 

1
marsbar 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Obviously not all Tories are.  I reckon Javid might not be!  But they do have a bit of an issue.  

1
Eric9Points 26 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> Obviously not all Tories are.  I reckon Javid might not be!  But they do have a bit of an issue.  

No Javid probably isn't, after all he got an assurance from BJ at a leader's debate that there would be an enquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory party.

Still waiting for the enquiry.

1
pasbury 26 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

Probably more of an issue quantitavely than Labour do with anti-Semitism. 

5
pasbury 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

Won't happen.

Pan Ron 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

22
Andy Hardy 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

Really? 

Stuart (aka brt) 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

What height is the bar for 'water melon smiles' and 'piccaninnies'? 

1
Stuart (aka brt) 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

> Really? 

Ron thinks it's like the racist Olympics or something. 

krikoman 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I'd imagine there Islamaphobic Tories, as well as AS Tories, MPs are taken from the general populace they are no better than most of them.

Like all parties they should be trying to rid themselves of all racists and bigots.

It would be nice though if the reporting frenzy was the same for all parties. We should all want to rid this scourge from our society, and create a nicer place for us all.

Unfortunately, I think the media frenzy regarding the LAbour party isn't helping this along in any meaningful way. People are becoming entrenched.

The fact there are Jewish groups in full support of Labour and Corbyn only muddies the water, they do seem to have a lot of trouble being heard.

2
pasbury 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

F*cking bullshit.

7
Stuart (aka brt) 26 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> The bar for what is considered Islamophobic seems considerably lower than that used for defining anti-semitism.

https://thelincolnite.co.uk/2019/11/lincoln-conservative-candidate-karl-mccartney-faces-suspension-calls-far-right-retweets/

Tommy Robinson. Remember him? The racist that nearly screwed up a court case. Seems he's got support in Lincoln. 

Pan Ron 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Boris criticises (while still defending) an item of religious clothing, forced on females over much of the world, that hides all visual cue apart from eyes, and which women take huge risks to demand rights not to wear...and he's an Islsmophobe.

Jews complain about antisemitism....and the response is "But Israel..."

6
Andy Hardy 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> Boris criticises (while still defending) an item of religious clothing, forced on females over much of the world, that hides all visual cue apart from eyes, and which women take huge risks to demand rights not to wear...and he's an Islsmophobe.

As far as I am aware the Koran does not specify that women have to wear a burkah, just that they should dress "modestly", so it's not strictly an item of religious clothing, it's a cultural thing in the middle east. "Forced" is also the wrong word here I'd say "conditioned" 

1
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Are Tories actually Islamaphobic?

First clarify what is being asked.

Are they "Islamophobic" in the sense of having an irrational fear of the Islamic religion?   Probably not, no, since most criticism of the Islamic religion is reasonable and appropriate.  In fact you could say too many people shy away from it.

6
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> As far as I am aware the Koran does not specify that women have to wear a burkah, just that they should dress "modestly", so it's not strictly an item of religious clothing, it's a cultural thing in the middle east. "Forced" is also the wrong word here I'd say "conditioned" 

First, it is not the case "Islam" derives only from the Koran (there are also the sayings attributed to Mohammed and his life and examples, which are also considered foundational parts of Islam).  But more to the point, religions accrete a whole lot of stuff that isn't necessarily in the foundational texts.   (Lots of Catholic doctrine is not directly from the Bible.)

Further, the religious dress is indeed "forced" on many women worldwide, often by legal sanction.   Some women would indeed be "conditioned" but many are definitely "forced".

For example there are on-going protests in Iran against the compulsory hijab.  Many women are risking imprisonment for defying the law.   Yet many in the West don't care and won't speak up in support, they'd much rather criticise Boris.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-headscarf-protest-women-prison-white-wednesdays-masih-alinejad-a9025431.html

Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

> Boris criticises (while still defending) an item of religious clothing, forced on females over much of the world, that hides all visual cue apart from eyes, and which women take huge risks to demand rights not to wear...and he's an Islsmophobe.

> Jews complain about antisemitism....and the response is "But Israel..."

If he wants to defend women's rights then do that. Don't start talking about  "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

Problem is what message does the affable old buffoon send out? 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/boris-johnsons-burqa-comments-led-to-surge-in-anti-muslim-attacks

Funny how there wasn't a surge in right on feminism amongst the ranks. 

Ian W 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> First, it is not the case "Islam" derives only from the Koran (there are also the sayings attributed to Mohammed and his life and examples, which are also considered foundational parts of Islam).  But more to the point, religions accrete a whole lot of stuff that isn't necessarily in the foundational texts.   (Lots of Catholic doctrine is not directly from the Bible.)

> Further, the religious dress is indeed "forced" on many women worldwide, often by legal sanction.   Some women would indeed be "conditioned" but many are definitely "forced".

> For example there are on-going protests in Iran against the compulsory hijab.  Many women are risking imprisonment for defying the law.   Yet many in the West don't care and won't speak up in support, they'd much rather criticise boris or Jeremy.

There, FTFY. It makes you appear much less bigoted and biased.

Its a pity you cant bring yourself to appear balanced in your political approach, because you are spot on with the rest of the post; many women in the far east ARE forced to wear the hijab, and it is becoming more prevalent. When my dad worked in the middle east in the seventies, the photo's he brought back showed a very "westernised" approach for women in iran, Iraq, Kuwait and parts of the UAE. Not so now (Kuwait and Iran especially).

Post edited at 09:31
1
Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> First clarify what is being asked.

> Are they "Islamophobic" in the sense of having an irrational fear of the Islamic religion?   Probably not, no, since most criticism of the Islamic religion is reasonable and appropriate.  In fact you could say too many people shy away from it.

I'll come clean. I don't think the Tory party has a problem with Islam. Just as I don't think Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism. Large organisations are going to have their lunatic fringe. These "problems" have escalated beyond being useful. And as you say people are shying away from proper discussion on a rational level.

'Are they "Anti-Semitic" in the sense of having an irrational fear of the Jewish religion?  Probably not, no, since most criticism of the Israeli state is reasonable and appropriate.'

*See how it works?

*Please don't read that as a finger jab on the chest. It's more of a resigned shrug of the shoulders. 

Post edited at 09:32
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Funny how there wasn't a surge in right on feminism amongst the ranks. 

You need to be cautious about swallowing propaganda.  "Tell MAMA" are a pressure group with an agenda.   It's in their interests to do a trawl of Twitter, find a few Tweets that they dislike, and put out a press release claiming a "surge in hate incidents". 

Do you have any objective evidence from a neutral source that there was a "surge" in "attacks" after that article? 

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Ian W:

> Its a pity you cant bring yourself to appear balanced in your political approach, ...

Well, just about nobody would accuse Corbyn of anti-Muslim prejudice, would they?

Are you complaining that I'm not entering the Corbyn and anti-Semitism discussion?

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> 'Are they "Anti-Semitic" in the sense of having an irrational fear of the Jewish religion? 

No, Anti-Semitism is an irrational fear or hatred of Jewish people, not of the Jewish religion.  

In that sense it is very different from the propaganda word "Islamophobia", which is literally an irrational fear of the Islamic religion (not people), and was deliberately invented to conflate the two and promote the claim that criticism of a religion amounts to bigotry against people, thus disallowing criticism of that religion.

Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> You need to be cautious about swallowing propaganda.  "Tell MAMA" are a pressure group with an agenda.   It's in their interests to do a trawl of Twitter, find a few Tweets that they dislike, and put out a press release claiming a "surge in hate incidents". 

> Do you have any objective evidence from a neutral source that there was a "surge" in "attacks" after that article? 

So you don't think they happened? Presumably your response will be along the lines of 'suspect data from a biased source'. 

5
Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> No, Anti-Semitism is an irrational fear or hatred of Jewish people, not of the Jewish religion.  

> In that sense it is very different from the propaganda word "Islamophobia", which is literally an irrational fear of the Islamic religion (not people), and was deliberately invented to conflate the two and promote the claim that criticism of a religion amounts to bigotry against people, thus disallowing criticism of that religion.

I suspect we're poles apart politically but I don't disagree with your principle. It cuts both ways and as you say it's designed to shut down a discussion or cast a dark light on an individual.

Johnson is no more a hater of Muslims than Corbyn hates Jewish people. Conflated it is. 

Post edited at 09:55
Ian W 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Well, just about nobody would accuse Corbyn of anti-Muslim prejudice, would they?

Plenty would; there is rather a lot of accusations of anti semitism with very little evidence. Certainly less evidence than there is of the same within the tory party. 

> Are you complaining that I'm not entering the Corbyn and anti-Semitism discussion?

Christ no, the fewer political debates you enter, the better! No, just that you seem to think everything good = tory, everything bad = labour. why do you need to mention people crticising Boris, whilst leaving out Jeremy?

The hijab issue is absolutely not a UK party political problem, but you said "Yet many in the West don't care and won't speak up in support, they'd much rather criticise Boris". 

Quite apart from Boris deserves being criticised, for many, many things, especially his overt racism and because he is fundamentally dishonest, its your immediate jumping to his defence (poor little Boris, all those nasty people having a go at him....) that grates.

I'll calm down in a minute - just had to listen to a brexit party supporter accuse basically everyone except Boris and Nigel of being anti- british. It was frustrating because he owns a business that is guaranteed to suffer greatly post brexit (engineering support, biggest two customers Nissan and Johnson Controls).

Post edited at 10:16
5
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> So you don't think they happened?

Depends a lot on what "they" refers to.      If the question is, was there an increase in Tweets about face coverings?  Maybe yes.   Was there an increase -- or even a "surge" -- in people wearing face coverings being physically assaulted in the street?   No, probably that did not happen.  But I'm open to evidence on the matter, say from court conviction statistics. 

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Ian W:

> No, just that you seem to think everything good = tory, everything bad = labour.

Nope.

> ... why do you need to mention people crticising Boris, whilst leaving out Jeremy?

Because this is a thread on "are Tories actually Islamophobic", whereas the other thread is the Corbyn one. 

> its your immediate jumping to his defence (poor little Boris, all those nasty people having a go at him....) that grates.

Not at all.  I'm not so much making a defence of Boris as defending the right to criticise religious face-wear and religions in general. 

Ian W 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Not at all.  I'm not so much making a defence of Boris as defending the right to criticise religious face-wear and religions in general. 

Fill your boots, I'm with you on the right to criticise religions, but there are ways and means. Saying people look like bank robbers and letterboxes isnt however the way to do it. And for political balance, neither would be repeatedly offering the same platitudes in a quiet monotone (JC's speciality). 

We deserve better from our leaders. Except brexit party supporters, obviously. They deserve everything they get.  ;)

2
In reply to Pan Ron:

I could be completely wrong on this by my take on it is that Islamaphobia is generally more "acceptable" * or prevalent in UK society than anti semitism. 

Probably in part due to the recent wars in the middle east, Al Qaeda and ISIS and the terrorist attacks in Europe including UK, plus the impression (rightly or wrongly) of less integration by certain elements of the Islamic faith in the UK compared to Jewish faith.

As such, Anti Semitism in Labour is probably more harmful from an election point of view than Islamaphobia is to the Tories

* i'm not saying it should be acceptable btw

Eric9Points 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Because this is a thread on "are Tories actually Islamophobic", whereas the other thread is the Corbyn one. 

My issue with the Tory party is that accusations have been made by Muslims in that party that they are unwelcome and discriminated against inside that party. 

Given that they are currently the party of government and may well be for another five years I think it is unacceptable that Muslims face obstruction when standing for selection as candidates for election. If that is in fact the case. 

Pete Pozman 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

To suggest Soros is an international sinister and malign influence is a clear example of antisemitism. To suggest Netanyahu is an extreme right wing gangster who is guilty of sponsoring racist murders and who poses a threat to world peace is not antisemitism. 

1
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pete Pozman:

> To suggest Soros is an international sinister and malign influence is a clear example of antisemitism

Well that's not clear to me.   George Soros has donated $32 billion to his Open Society Foundation, and the whole point of that is to influence society.   If people disagree with him and thus dislike the influence he is having, why shouldn't they say so?  Why is that necessarily about his Jewish heritage? 

Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pete Pozman:

> To suggest Soros is an international sinister and malign influence is a clear example of antisemitism. To suggest Netanyahu is an extreme right wing gangster who is guilty of sponsoring racist murders and who poses a threat to world peace is not antisemitism. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/07/13/anti-semitism-doesnt-bother-benjamin-netanyahu-if-it-comes-from-his-political-allies/

It's certainly a minefield. 

Pete Pozman 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

The people who say Soros is evil and drive his university out of the country tend to be fascists and racists. If they are disturbed by his activities I am glad. 

John Stainforth 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> Still waiting for the enquiry.

We may have to wait a lot longer before the government releases the findings of any enquiry!

Eric9Points 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pete Pozman:

> The people who say Soros is evil and drive his university out of the country tend to be fascists and racists. If they are disturbed by his activities I am glad. 

Very true but it makes it impossible to say that they're anti Semitic fascists or just common or garden fascists.

Anyway, isn't this thread about the Tory party discriminating against its own members because of their religion?

AllanMac 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Not all tories are Islamophobic, and not all Labour politicians are antisemitic. It is daft to say otherwise.

Accusations of phobia and racism is a political stunt, orchestrated by a pre-election, sensationalist-hungry media. You can tell which of the media's political allegiances have the upper hand, by the way they profoundly underplay accusations directed at the tories, and overplay Labour's. I strongly suspect this is a demolition job partly directed towards the Labour Party, but mostly on Corbyn.  

The BBC appears to be complicit in a concerted effort to injure the Labour Party, and their chief attack dog Andrew Neil sought not to get answers and rational explanations, but to embarrass Corbyn as much as possible about the perceived weaknesses of the Party. Neil did not give any space at all for answers and interrupted constantly. I wonder if he will do the same when interviewing Johnson? I'm guessing not as much.

Like most things related to religion (and now politics, it seems), the antisemitism row is borne of an inability to criticise the state of Israel without sounding antisemitic. The two should not be conflated, and support of the marginalised people of Palestine is certainly not an automatic and implied criticism of Jewish people.

This illustrates the shoddy state of British journalism, in which rational debate is pushed into the sidelines in favour of bias, ad hominem attacks, invective and cheap sensationalism.

Trying to shift voter allegiances in this way, using dirty tricks rather than purveying factual, bias-free information is yet another slap in the face for a democracy already on its knees. The BBC, funded as it is by non-discretonary licence fees, should know better. 

1
Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to AllanMac:

> Not all tories are Islamophobic, and not all Labour politicians are antisemitic. It is daft to say otherwise.

> Accusations of phobia and racism is a political stunt, orchestrated by a pre-election, sensationalist-hungry media. You can tell which of the media's political allegiances have the upper hand, by the way they profoundly underplay accusations directed at the tories, and overplay Labour's. I strongly suspect this is a demolition job partly directed towards the Labour Party, but mostly on Corbyn.  

> The BBC appears to be complicit in a concerted effort to injure the Labour Party, and their chief attack dog Andrew Neil sought not to get answers and rational explanations, but to embarrass Corbyn as much as possible about the perceived weaknesses of the Party. Neil did not give any space at all for answers and interrupted constantly. I wonder if he will do the same when interviewing Johnson? I'm guessing not as much.

> Like most things related to religion (and now politics, it seems), the antisemitism row is borne of an inability to criticise the state of Israel without sounding antisemitic. The two should not be conflated, and support of the marginalised people of Palestine is certainly not an automatic and implied criticism of Jewish people.

> This illustrates the shoddy state of British journalism, in which rational debate is pushed into the sidelines in favour of bias, ad hominem attacks, invective and cheap sensationalism.

> Trying to shift voter allegiances in this way, using dirty tricks rather than purveying factual, bias-free information is yet another slap in the face for a democracy already on its knees. The BBC, funded as it is by non-discretonary licence fees, should know better. 

That's a like from me. 

marsbar 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Pan Ron:

Ah yes, the feminist argument.  Where nasty white men go around scaring women and girls and calling them names due to their clothing in the name of stopping oppression.  

FWIW the pressure to dress a certain way in pretty much any culture or religion comes in my experience from the older women.  It's the Grannies and Aunties who are behind it when you look into it.  

marsbar 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Whatabout Iran?  Whatabout Saudi?  Whataboutary as usual. 

In the UK women have the choice within limits to wear what they want.  It's a free country.  

Are women in the UK being forced to wear niqab or burqa or hijab?  Not in my experience.  

Are they asked to remove face coverings in certain situations, yes.  

Is Boris dealing with a genuine concern?  No. 

His comments were dog whistling.  

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/mar/20/schools.religion

Genuine concerns have been dealt with legally.  

Post edited at 16:11
Eric9Points 27 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> FWIW the pressure to dress a certain way in pretty much any culture or religion comes in my experience from the older women.  It's the Grannies and Aunties who are behind it when you look into it.  

What like these women?

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/women-isil-torturers-191124095032690.html

An extreme example I grant you but I'd say that men were still at the root of the oppression of women in Islamic cultures. Reading other horror stories I get the impression that older women are generally protecting the younger ones from possible male aggression.

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> In the UK women have the choice within limits to wear what they want.  It's a free country.  

Yes, agreed.  And that was the main point of Boris's article, disagreeing with the French and Danish bans on public religious garb. 

Equally, other people are allowed to have an opinion on such garments and to express it.

>  Are women in the UK being forced to wear niqab or burqa or hijab?  Not in my experience.  

Probably some are, yes. Or rather, perhaps few "women" are forced, but plenty of girls are (forced to by their families, including to late teens), according to the testimony of ex-Muslims from those communities. 

Indeed, there are British schools where a hijab is a compulsory part of the dress code.  Does that matter to those who complain about Boris?

>  Is Boris dealing with a genuine concern?  No.  His comments were dog whistling.  

I doubt it, since if that really was his intention he would not have taken the line of disagreeing with the French and Danish bans.     It really is a wholly unobjectionable article, unless one is trying hard to be offended. 

1
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

OK, I've just re-read the article.  There is nothing at all wrong with it.  It's a liberal article; it says all the right things. And as for the choice of some words, well he pokes more fun at the Danish overall.  

For anyone wanting to read it, here's the official but paywalled version: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/05/denmark-has-got-wrong-yes-burka-oppressive-ridiculous-still/

And this seems to be a non-paywalled version (click on "read entire thread"):   https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/95kg2e/denmark_has_got_it_wrong_yes_the_burka_is/

Iamgregp 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Agreed the message behind the article may have been ok, liberal even.  But what does your average man-on-the-street-who-likes-a-bit-of-a-barney-after-a-few-pints (you know the type, the "you know I'm not racist but..." mob) know of it?  He probably didn't read it but he knows the widely reported part about letterboxes. 

And that's the part that he'll use on the street when he abuses a muslim woman.  That's the justification he'll use when spits at the immigrant family.  That's the part that will he will use to justify his actions to himself.

That's the danger here, people like Johnson, Katie Hopkins, that info wars idiot and the rest of them, they are actually intelligent people who are able to argue that their words are out of context, that the facts that they were quoting were correct, that they haven't incited violence or hatred... and they're right.  But they don't take into consideration the real effects that their words have.

Ragrdless of whether BJ is Islamophobic or not, he wrote those words and now he's our Prime Minister.  A truly worrying state of affairs. 

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Iamgregp:

> He probably didn't read it but he knows the widely reported part about letterboxes. 

Which is an argument for proper reporting, rather than newspapers trying to find something to faint with horror about. 

There is nothing wrong with the article.  And if the newspapers had reported "Boris strongly backs right to wear niqab; criticises Danish ban" (as they could have), then that would have been fine also. 

> But they don't take into consideration the real effects that their words have.

And the newspapers don't have the slightest responsibility to take into consideration the real effects that their reporting may have?

> Ragrdless of whether BJ is Islamophobic or not, he wrote those words and now he's our Prime Minister.  A truly worrying state of affairs. 

Of all the reasons to "worry" about Boris being PM, I'd put that one pretty much last.

1
marsbar 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Maybe its because I'm on a mobile but I still can't get the article text.  

I will have a look on a computer at some point.  

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> Maybe its because I'm on a mobile but I still can't get the article text.  

Oh heck, why not, here it is (if I get sued for copyright infringement I'll plead a public-interest defence about voters in an election knowing what the PM has said):

Denmark has got it wrong. Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that's still no reason to ban it - Boris Johnson

Ah Denmark, what a country. If any society breathes the spirit of liberty, this is it.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was in Copenhagen for some international conference, and as ever I rose early and went for a run. As I passed through some yuppie zone of warehouse conversions and posh restaurants I saw to my amazement that the Danes had also got up early for exercise – and they were diving stark naked into the bracing waters of the harbour. And I thought to myself – that’s the Danes for you; that’s the spirit of Viking individualism. I mean, we have a climate warmer than Denmark; but even so, would you expect to see Brits disrobing and plunging into the waters of Canary Wharf, or even Greenwich? We are pretty easy-going, but not that easy-going.

Denmark is the only country in Europe, as far as I know, that still devotes a large proportion of its capital city to an anarchist commune, called Christiania, where I remember spending a happy afternoon 25 years ago inhaling the sweet air of freedom. It is the Danes who still hold out against all sorts of EU tyrannies, large and small.

They still chew their lethal carcinogenic tobacco; they still eat their red-dyed frankfurters; they still use the krone rather than the euro; they still refuse to let foreigners buy holiday homes in Jutland; and of course it was the heroic population of Denmark that on that magnificent day in June 1992 stuck two fingers up to the elites of Europe and voted down the Maastricht treaty – and though that revolt was eventually crushed by the European establishment (as indeed, note, they will try to crush all such revolts), that great nej to Maastricht expressed something about the Danish spirit: a genial and happy cussedness and independence.

It is a spirit you see everywhere on the streets of Copenhagen in the veneration for that supreme embodiment of vehicular autonomy, the bicycle. The Danes don’t cycle with their heads down, grimly, in Lycra, swearing at people who get in their way. They wander and weave helmetless down the beautiful boulevards on clapped-out granny bikes, with a culture of cycling in which everyone is treated with courtesy and respect. Yes, if you wanted to visit a country that seemed on the face of it to embody the principles of JS Mill - that you should be able to do what you want provided you do no harm to others – I would advise you to head for wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

So I was a bit surprised to see that on August 1 the Danes joined several other European countries – France, Germany, Austria, Belgium – in imposing a ban on the niqab and the burka – those items of Muslim head-gear that obscure the female face. Already a fine of 1000 kroner – about £120 – has been imposed on a 28-year-old woman seen wearing a niqab in a shopping centre in the north eastern town of Horsholm. A scuffle broke out as someone tried to rip it off her head. There have been demonstrations, on both sides of the argument. What has happened, you may ask, to the Danish spirit of live and let live?If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran. I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any – invariably male – government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled – like Jack Straw – to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct. As for individual businesses or branches of government – they should of course be able to enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers; and that means human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.

All that seems to me to be sensible. But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.

I am against a total ban because it is inevitably construed – rightly or wrongly – as being intended to make some point about Islam. If you go for a total ban, you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations; and you fan the flames of grievance. You risk turning people into martyrs, and you risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation, and you may simply make the problem worse. Like a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager determined to wear a spike through her tongue, or a bolt through her nose, you run the risk that by your heavy-handed attempt to ban what you see as a bizarre and unattractive adornment you simply stiffen resistance.

The burka and the niqab were certainly not always part of Islam. In Britain today there is only a tiny, tiny minority of women who wear these odd bits of headgear. One day, I am sure, they will go.

The Danes swim starkers in the heart of Copenhagen. If The Killing is to be believed, their female detectives wear Faroe sweaters on duty, as is their sovereign right. If Danish women really want to cover their faces, then it seems a bit extreme – all the caveats above understood – to stop them under all circumstances. I don’t propose we follow suit. A total ban is not the answer.

Post edited at 21:40
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to the thread:

So having just re-read it:

The article can be summed up as "classical liberal", a call for tolerance of things even of we dislike them.

To often, nowadays, we conflate tolerance with respect, and consider lack of respect to be intolerance.  They are very different.  One can only "tolerate" something that one dis-respects and dis-likes.   That's what a classical liberal says: even though I dislike something, I'll still tolerate and accept it. 

Thus Boris's disapproval towards the niqab and burka is a necessary part of the article! 

The reaction to this article, picking out two phrases from it, is just ridiculous. And no, I just don't buy the idea that it's all a coded dog whistle.

As Boris said in his Question-Time answer: read the article!   If you have read the article, and still consider it "truly worrying" from a PM-to-be, then you're the one in the wrong!

As I said, one can write a very long list of "things to object to about Boris being PM and be worried about", but this article simply is not one of them.  

It's a sad day when the classical-liberal sentiment of this article, the epitome of enlightenment values, getsput forward as a reason for not voting for someone. 

Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I think he loses support and sympathy when he starts to talk about 'water melon smiles' etc. Archaic use of language at best. 

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> I think he loses support and sympathy when he starts to talk about 'water melon smiles' etc. Archaic use of language at best. 

That article was ridiculing Tony Blair (PM at the time it was written).  Specifically, it was attributing thoughts about "picanninies" and "water-melon smiles" to advisors to TB, planning an overseas trip to divert attention from troubles at home.  So yes, it was using stereotypical language as a way of poking fun at Blair. (Presumably it's ok for a Tory journalist to ridicule a Labour PM?)   Again, picking phrases from the article doesn't give any sense of why they were used in context. 

1
Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> That article was ridiculing Tony Blair (PM at the time it was written).  Specifically, it was attributing thoughts about "picanninies" and "water-melon smiles" to advisors to TB, planning an overseas trip to divert attention from troubles at home.  So yes, it was using stereotypical language as a way of poking fun at Blair. (Presumably it's ok for a Tory journalist to ridicule a Labour PM?)   Again, picking phrases from the article doesn't give any sense of why they were used in context. 

This is where we diverge I'm afraid. There is no context in this day and age which makes it right. And of course it's OK to ridicule those on office. Just engage the brain and have some class. 

1
Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to the thread"

And by the way, on Islamic dress codes in the UK:

"Girls in dozens of schools in England are forced to wear hijabs, according to National Secular Society research published in the Sunday Times today.

"The NSS examined uniform policies on the websites of registered Islamic schools in England and found that girls potentially as young as four are instructed to wear the hijab as part of the official uniform policy.

"Out of 142 Islamic schools that accept girls, 59 have uniform policies on their website that suggest a headscarf or another form of hijab is compulsory. This includes eight state-funded schools and 27 primary schools ­– three of which are state-funded.

"In some cases the requirement is very explicit. At Feversham College in Bradford the policy states: "It is very important that the uniform is loose fitting and modest and that the hijaab is fitted closely to the head. The College uniform is COMPULSORY" (sic). Tayyibah Girls' School in Hackney states: "The school is not willing to compromise on any issues regarding uniform."

"Girls at Al-Ihsaan Community College in Leicester are told they must wear either a "jilbaab or niqab." The jilbaab is a long loose-fitting garment which covers the body except the hands, face and feet. Redstone Educational Academy in Birmingham includes the jilbaab as part of the compulsory uniform. Olive Secondary in Bradford says that girls' faces "must be covered" outside."

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2017/09/girls-forced-to-wear-hijabs-in-english-schools-nss-reveals/

Are people OK with British girls being forced to cover their hair all the time they are at school, with no choice?  

Have a look at the pictures at: https://www.alihsaancollege.org/  to see how one school thinks schoolgirls should look.   (Though I think this school may have been suspended by Ofsted.)

Coel Hellier 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> This is where we diverge I'm afraid. There is no context in this day and age which makes it right.

I guess opinions differ about satire.  

Since we've just had a Sacha Baron Cohen thread, what do you think about Borat's take on the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan?    Not acceptable to ridicule a nation?  Or ok, given that it was clearly satirical and not serious?

Stuart (aka brt) 27 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I guess opinions differ about satire.  

Agreed. 

> Since we've just had a Sacha Baron Cohen thread, what do you think about Borat's take on the Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan?   

Not his best work. It was a bit low hanging fruit. His American escapades were better IMHO. 

> Not acceptable to ridicule a nation?  Or ok, given that it was clearly satirical and not serious?

Don't have a dog in this fight as to this particular example. Cohen is a comedian or comedic actor so you sort of know what you're going to get, whether you like the material or not.

There have been quite a few recent examples of pretty disagreeable pieces written under the guise of satire which probably/possibly masked a truer/nastier intent (wasn't there something in The Spectator?). 

Post edited at 23:03
Iamgregp 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I've read the article.  There's quite a lot in there that I didn't like.  My main issue is that he shows absolutely no respect to Muslim women who wear the garments he mentions.

Whilst he does criticise a total ban on the Burka he also unnecessarily and childishly mocks how women appear when they wear one. 

This line "I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran" is an example of a white western man who has briefly read an English translation of The Koran suggesting that his understanding and interpretation of it is better than somebody who Muslim woman who has studied it in great depth. 

Does he have so little respect for Muslim women that he feels they are don't understand that their own religion as well as he does?

I agree that there's a lot of bad things about Boris Johnson, and by far this isn't my biggest issue with him, but having read this fully it doesn't make me feel any better about him.

Seems to be a recurring issue around Boris and Women doesn't there?

1
Coel Hellier 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Whilst he does criticise a total ban on the Burka he also unnecessarily and childishly mocks how women appear when they wear one. 

I think you're doing too much to defend a style of clothing (niqab, burkha) that is, for the most part, across the world, not a choice, but is imposed on women regardless of their wishes by an oppressive and controlling religion.

> Does he have so little respect for Muslim women that he feels they are don't understand that their own religion as well as he does?

It's wrong to treat the whole religion as being uniform. It has many variants, and plenty of Muslims will say the same as Boris, that the niqab/burkha is not required.  Which is why, in many Muslims nations, the niqab/burkha is indeed not mandated (though sometimes the hijab is).   The niqab/burka is a sign of the more extreme versions of Islam. 

Iamgregp 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> I think you're doing too much to defend a style of clothing (niqab, burkha) that is, for the most part, across the world, not a choice, but is imposed on women regardless of their wishes by an oppressive and controlling religion.

I'm defending people's right to worship their religion and observe its practices in the way that they choose.  It's in the universal declaration of human rights, whereas the right to see a woman's face is not.

I also think it's wrong to call Islam an oppressive and controlling religion, these are not words I would ever use and I feel embarrassed that Muslim users of this site will read them here.

> It's wrong to treat the whole religion as being uniform. It has many variants, and plenty of Muslims will say the same as Boris, that the niqab/burkha is not required.  Which is why, in many Muslims nations, the niqab/burkha is indeed not mandated (though sometimes the hijab is).   The niqab/burka is a sign of the more extreme versions of Islam. 

I know that religious dress can vary from individual to individual.  I live in a very ethnically diverse area of London.  I literally live opposite a mosque.  I can pretty guarantee I have more day to day interactions with Muslims than you.  You don't need to teach me anything about Islam.

That other Muslim people's interpretation of the Koran matches that of Boris doesn't take away from the fact that in Boris' world, he has understood their religious text better than women who choose to wear these garments. 

Coel Hellier 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Iamgregp:

> I'm defending people's right to worship their religion and observe its practices in the way that they choose. 

So is Boris. So am I.

> It's in the universal declaration of human rights, whereas the right to see a woman's face is not.

But the right to ridicule a religion and religious dress *is* in the declaration of human rights.

> I also think it's wrong to call Islam an oppressive and controlling religion, ...

You're welcome to your assessment, but I'm sticking to mine.

> ... these are not words I would ever use and I feel embarrassed that Muslim users of this site will read them here.

Err, why?  Because you want to protect their delicate ears from crticism of their religion?  Because you don't regard Muslims as adults, able to accept and cope with criticism of their religion?

Iamgregp 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> But the right to ridicule a religion and religious dress *is* in the declaration of human rights.

Fair point, but then I guess so is my right to say that a person that they are wrong for doing so, and that their doing so makes me less likely to vote for them?

> Err, why?  Because you want to protect their delicate ears from crticism of their religion?  Because you don't regard Muslims as adults, able to accept and cope with criticism of their religion?

Because I don't associate with people who speak in this way, and by engaging with you in this thread that's exactly what I'm doing.  

Let's just agree to disagree.  I have no personal issue with you or your beliefs for the most part.  We live in vastly different worlds with different experiences and opinions of Islam.  We're never going to chage each others minds so lets move on.

Like you say, there are plenty of other reasons not to vote for Boris, let's not get hung up on this one.

marsbar 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

Well you read it one way and I read it another.  Boris helpfully mansplains Islamic dress codes and the Quran. He assumes all women wearing it must be oppressed.  He does that colonial thing where he knows best.  

Liberal isnt what I'd call it.  

The letterbox thing is beyond rude and anyone with half a brain would know it would catch on as a way of bullying.  

He doesn't exactly criticise those ripping clothing off women in Denmark either.  

As for asking women to remove it in certain circumstances as I said above its already the UK norm.  

I agree with you that anything more than hijab has no place in a UK school, and I'd also argue that the hijab and fasting is not something I'd expect for younger children.  

Ofsted is quite capable of dealing with schools who try this kind of thing and as far as I can tell they do shut them down.  

1
Coel Hellier 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Fair point, but then I guess so is my right to say that a person that they are wrong for doing so, and that their doing so makes me less likely to vote for them?

Sure, you're entitled to vote on whatever grounds you like.

Coel Hellier 28 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> He assumes all women wearing it must be oppressed. 

You're right, we read it differently.  I don't read this bit as assuming that all such women are oppressed:

"But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business."

> He doesn't exactly criticise those ripping clothing off women in Denmark either.  

Oh come on, it's obvious he's against it! 

> I agree with you that anything more than hijab has no place in a UK school, and I'd also argue that the hijab and fasting is not something I'd expect for younger children.  

But how about the hijab, should a school make that compulsory on any girl? 

> Ofsted is quite capable of dealing with schools who try this kind of thing and as far as I can tell they do shut them down. 

Do you think that Ofsted should shut down any school that requires the hijab? 

1
marsbar 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

My personal position.  

I don't think the hijab should be compulsory in any state funded school. I'm not aware of this being the case anyhow.  

I think a plain hijab in a matching colour to the school uniform should be permitted for any girl of a suitable age (puberty) who wishes to wear it in any school.  This is fairly usual practice.  

Trousers or maxi skirts and long sleeved shirts should be available options for uniform, but not the only options.  

I don't think face coverings are appropriate for teachers, TAs and pupils.  I don't see an issue personally if for example someone in the finance office wanted to wear one, but that should be up to schools to decide.  

Coel Hellier 28 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> I don't think the hijab should be compulsory in any state funded school. I'm not aware of this being the case anyhow.  

We're basically agreed on policy for state-funded schools.  According to the NSS survey, there are indeed some state-funded schools that do demand the hijab for girls (or, at least, there were when the survey was done in 2017, I'm not sure whether anything has changed owing to the NSS campaign on this).

How about non-state-funded schools?  Should girls in those be forced to wear a hijab, or given a choice?   (Note that non-state-funded schools are still regulated by Ofsted.)

Duncan Bourne 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Interesting debate.

My position:

If someone wants to wear a headscarf etc. that's fine

If someone wants to enforce the wearing of headscarves. Not fine

If someone wants to be Muslim fine

If someone doesn't want to be Muslim (or any religion) fine

If someone wants to get all angsty and pissed off because someone wants to leave a religion. Not fine

If someone wants to arrest me for not having a religion (as is the case in some Muslim countries). Not fine

If someone wants to stab, shoot or blow me (or anyone else) up using religion as an excuse. Not fine

If someone says that all followers of a particular religion want to stab, shoot, etc. Not fine

If someone wants to claim special status for their religion by calling any criticism of it a phobia. Not fine

If someone criticises a religion on spurious or dodgy grounds (ie Elders of Zion, Muslims are paedophiles, etc.) then Not fine

If some parties want to use religion and racism to sling mud at their opponents rather than actually, you know, talk about policies and how they are going to actually improve our lives rather than who's going to paddle us up the worst shit creek. Then I despair that's just the state of politics today.

For the record I don't mind any religions as long as folk don't take them seriously

off-duty 28 Nov 2019
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> If he wants to defend women's rights then do that. Don't start talking about  "letter boxes" and "bank robbers".

> Problem is what message does the affable old buffoon send out? 

> Funny how there wasn't a surge in right on feminism amongst the ranks. 

I'm not defending his comments, but every time the "rise in hate crime" type stats are rolled out for any incident ( be that terrorist attack, right wing demo, racist pronouncement by politician etc) it's worth considering that it's nearly always a rise in reporting of hate crimes rather than a definitive rise in hate crime occurrence.

marsbar 29 Nov 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

I dont pay for them so I dont really care.  If parents choose to pay to send their daughter there, presumably the daughter would have been wearing hijab in a state school anyway.  

marsbar 29 Nov 2019
In reply to off-duty:

How would you know if it's more incidents or more reporting?  

I know as a teacher of Muslim girls that there was an increase in incidents of my girls or their mums being harrassed in public, not because we reported incidents but because it is the kind of thing children talk about in school. 

Coel Hellier 29 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> I dont pay for them so I dont really care.  If parents choose to pay to send their daughter there, presumably the daughter would have been wearing hijab in a state school anyway.  

So up thread you said:

"Are women in the UK being forced to wear niqab or burqa or hijab?  Not in my experience."

Yet here you simply "don't really care" if teenage girls are forced -- by their school or parents -- to wear the hijab.

Granted, girls are not women, but choice in such things still matters.  

off-duty 29 Nov 2019
In reply to marsbar:

> How would you know if it's more incidents or more reporting?  

Short answer - you don't. What's normally quoted is spikes in reported crimes/incidents.

> I know as a teacher of Muslim girls that there was an increase in incidents of my girls or their mums being harrassed in public, not because we reported incidents but because it is the kind of thing children talk about in school. 

Yep - could be a spike in occurrence, or even that could be that they realise the atmosphere is more receptive to discussing what they (unfortunately and reprehensibly) experience normally.

Anecdotally I've also seen the impact of high visibility campaigns to report resulting in (surprise, surprise) increases in reporting, which in turn get publicised/mistranslated as spikes in occurrence.


This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.