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A Canadian Shia TV station, Ahlulbayt, that promotes World Hijab Day runs a similar project called “Global Hijab Awareness”. “Why does Islam encourage hijab?” asks its homepage Q&A. Answer: “It not only makes a woman feel confident and liberated but encourages society to not see women as objects of desire.” Women who haven’t yet worn the hijab should “get on the train of repentance, my sister, before it passes by your station”.

Our well-intentioned Foreign Office celebrated World Hijab Day in February, and is reported to have offered free headscarves to women, inviting them to its Walk-In event — just to feel the power of its “liberation, respect and security”. Muslim women are often quoted as saying the hijab does indeed “empower” them. But how, exactly? By providing a deterrent to ogling men because they’re left with less to look at? How exactly does that represent empowerment of women? It seems to me that by encouraging women in the West to wear the hijab, the Foreign Office is disempowering those of their sisters in the East who have been arrested, threatened and even killed for not wearing it. “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs,” was one outraged response in 2016 to a young Saudi woman who posted a picture of herself on social media in public without wearing a hijab.

Of course, British Muslims are not alone in worrying about where a liberal permissive society might take their children. Equally, there is concern about how the hijab is being used by Islamist organisations to position conservative Islam in the mainstream.

Quite why a branch of the British government should be willing to help them do this in a country increasingly segregated by faith and culture is puzzling. Not to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon though: “Women should be able to observe their faith — and wear what they choose,” she says on the World Hijab Day website. Sure, they should. Is there some suggestion that they cannot? The case made by Amanda Spielman and Neena Lall is not about the right of British Muslim girls who have reached puberty to wear the hijab: it is whether it is right for the state to collude in its imposition on 4-7-year olds, long before they reach puberty, instead of giving them the freedom to choose at puberty.

Some British Muslim leaders seem to want to reduce that choice. The Greater Council of Mosques in Greater Manchester insist that the hijab becomes a “religious obligation” at puberty and parents who put it on their pre-pubescent daughters “do so to accustom them to wear it in later life”. Mend boss Sufyan Ismail gives the game away when he says: “Our view was that if a girl does not wear the hijab before puberty then she won’t wear it afterwards.” So much for Mend’s claim that the right to wear the hijab in schools is about religious freedom. It also suggests scant parental regard for the famously quoted Koranic verse that there should be no compulsion in religion.

To Asra Nomani, co-founder of the US-based Muslim Reform Movement, the likes of Sturgeon and the Foreign Office “stand on the wrong side of a lethal war of ideas that sexually objectifies women as vessels for honour and temptation, absolving men of personal responsibility. This purity culture covers, segregates, subordinates, silences, jails, and kills women and girls around the world.”
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Trevor
July 14th, 2018
3:07 PM
I would like to apologize if my comment on 12/07/18 caused any offense to Muslims. On reflection, I think that my comments were a bit harsh although I still hold the view that Muslims do make it hard for themselves to integrate into British society even by the clothes that they wear. Logic suggests to me that if Allah is one god and faith in him is fundamental then why should gowns and veils suddenly become an integral part of worship? Also, the rapid growth in crimes being committed by Muslims of all ages and genders suggests to me that the Muslim community is becoming ever more divided and there will come a point where being a British Muslim will be something to ashamed of rather than proud.

Trevor
July 12th, 2018
10:07 AM
I really believe that Muslims are their own worst enemies because of the fact that they complain about (for want of a better phrase) ''being left out'' by wider society but the fact is their form of religion and even their style of clothing creates a barrier between themselves and wider society. Muslim's form of clothing effectively says to non-muslim society, ''we are religiously pious'' and we want to stand out from the rest. When you take into account the anti-social acts being carried out by Muslim extremists, alongside the ones who walk around all day dressed in headscarves and gowns it becomes clear that these people are not only misguided but they are also divided among themselves and this has created a situation in which the gown-wearing Muslims attempt to convince the wider society that we are genuine but the Muslim terrorists are not. I personally believe that it is too late to even try to build bridges because the fact is the damage is done and I believe that a growing number of people are fed up with these Muslims coming to our country and causing problems while putting on a poor show of religious piety.

amcdonald
June 22nd, 2018
10:06 PM
Anonymous believes Tommy Robinson is in jail for contempt of court. At least the BBC gives us 5 meanings to the graffiti on the back of Melania`s jacket! Anonymous can read some truth about the attempt to silence Robinson in Douglas Murray`s book The Strange Death of Europe. In Russia they threw Pussy Riot in jail. The only feminist to speak in solidarity with Robinson is Anne Marie Waters. Theresa May is too busy doing a grovelling curtsy to Royalty on tour. She prefers listening to people with nothing to say. How cheaply decadent can you get ? She tells us there`s a Brexit dividend for the NHS. But absolutely nothing about a dividend for council house building. Where are all our muslims with several wives (registered as single mothers) going to live ?

amcdonald
June 22nd, 2018
5:06 PM
Can you get more culturally disgusting than Shane Allen who runs BBC comedy output? He describes Monty Python as `six Oxbridge white blokes` and John Cleese (twitter) has started kicking him up the arse (metaphorically). Allen cites the disgusting `diversity` argument.. Surely the Muslim Council of Not Great Britain can make a case here too. Like Allen they have no sense of humour either. The `islamisation` of the BBC is well underway. And the BBC is using taxpayers money to fund it! How very `Muslim Brotherhood` of them. There`s no civilisation/free speech where there`s no sense of humour. Islam has no sense of humour and cannot appreciate anyone who has one. Halal Capone Inshallah,innit. Islam thinks it has the equivalent of the `divine right of kings`. Type in `contradictions in the koran` and see what superior intelligence our AI reveals. The hyperobject that is the internet is the ninth wonder of the world.

amcdonald
June 21st, 2018
4:06 PM
ForBritain is my new favourite political party. Anne Marie Waters is in Norwich on 21 July. The fascist `anti-fascists` who protested outside her public meetings are increasing her support. ForBritain is getting my vote. And it`s 100% pro-Brexit. Islam has no intention to integrate. Quite the reverse. Fortunately Brexit has made a politics of truth and intelligence possible. Anne Marie Waters deserves a statue next to Churchill and another one next to the new feminist one.

Anonymous
June 21st, 2018
8:06 AM
Actually Tommy Robinson is in jail for being in contempt of court whilst serving a suspended sentence for - yes, you guessed it! - being in contempt of court

amcdonald
June 17th, 2018
10:06 PM
Would the abolition of the death penalty for apostasy in Islam lead to it`s total collapse, empty mosques and no signs or symbols of Islam anywhere in the world ?

amcdonald
June 12th, 2018
4:06 PM
Zeeshan Ali is free to speak. Unlike Tommy Robinson who`s in jail for speaking his truth. Only Morrissey and Mary Anne Waters dare to speak the truth to and about Islam (see her YouTube vid Dangerous Words,Stockholm etc). The book Beyond Terror by Mary Anne Waters is now available. She`s as good as Camille Paglia and Douglas Murray. It`s also true that the marvellous muslim,feminist artisr Sarah Maple is exhibiting in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. It`s essentially an exhibition of `Remainia` retro-aesthetica.

Zeeshan Ali, MEND
June 11th, 2018
10:06 AM
Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development) is dismayed by yet another attack by John Ware (“The battle for British Muslims’ integration”, May) and concerned that his misrepresentation of Mend’s actions and intentions is based on cherry-picked facts and is a biased and inaccurate representation of the totality of our work, in line with a preconceived critical narrative. In particular, there is a singular absence of any of the positive work we have undertaken over the past four years. Mend works tirelessly not to make, in Ware’s words, “alarmist claims” but rather to shine a light on an issue routinely dismissed by politicians, newspaper editors and self-proclaimed experts. Ware fails to mention the numerous documents produced by us (all available on our website for anyone, without needing an investigation) that detail presentations, briefing documents, fact-sheets and easy-read guides on numerous topics affecting the British Muslim community. These have been produced for the sole benefit of educating Muslims and non-Muslims on contentious issues, and not to “position conservative Islam in the mainstream”. The only conclusion we can come to as to why he fails to mention them is that considering them would be dissonant with his negative narrative and thus fail his subjective test for “suitable evidence”. Ware also failed to mention the work our volunteers have done and regularly do in fighting Islamophobia. In February, Paul Moore was convicted of attempted murder after he ran over a Muslim woman in Leicester. As reported by both BBC and ITV, it was Mend volunteers who supported her family, pushed for the police to pursue the case and raised media awareness of it. This was a case that attracted national media attention, and we have to ask why Ware did not report this as an example of Mend’s commendable work. Another notable absence was the “Love a Muslim day” originated by Mend’s regional manager that brought together faith and non-faith communities in numerous events across the country. This was in response to a letter calling for violence against the Muslim community. Mend’s “Love a Muslim day” was reported by all mainstream newspapers and a number of independent journalists but seemingly missed by Ware. Aside from Mend’s work, Ware also ignores the many accolades that we have received recognising our work. The World Economic Forum ranked our work as “best practice” in human rights “protection and promotion”; the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights rated our work as “best example for civil society organisations”; and the EU Parliament magazine stated: “The EU could learn a lot from Mend’s work on counter-radicalisation through engagement.” The WEF, ODIHR and the EU are highly-respected international institutions and it is remarkable that Ware has not cited their considered views on the quality of our work. Tackling all forms of Islamophobia is and will remain Mend’s main objective, and we will keep striving to ensure that racial and religious discrimination is eradicated from society undeterred by sensationalistic accusations. If Ware wishes to criticise Mend’s operation then we do not discourage him. This is to be expected in a healthy democracy, and every organisation is continually evolving and learning from its mistakes. However, biased criticism is rarely informative or useful, and we would expect higher journalistic standards from someone as experienced as Mr Ware. Zeeshan Ali, Media and Policy Analyst, Mend, London E3

Greg Aniol
May 23rd, 2018
4:05 PM
Iftikhar Ahmad - i got your point - to the certain extend .... Why not boys? Boys' problems should be also approached. If they grow up with unhealthy perception of women then definitely should be also educated. I am NOT trying to say that young girls should dress up whatever way. They (as well as boys) should be educated by family and school to respect themselves. However my (and not only my) perception of girls dressed in the cloth bags is not necessary built up on their self respect rather than religion based oppression - tell me if I am wrong. If you are calling few year old girl in the school skirt sexually marked but the other one wrapped with the cloth bag not you must have very disfigured perception of reality and sexuality. Again - religion plays here massive part. Education - to be honest - is a huge problem in the UK. Not schools but parents and overall society is guilty of actions dragging it down. Kids arent encouraged to learn; teachers are scared of pushing them, parents (many of them, not all) do not give a damn, expecting the state to look after their own children. Underachievement ethos guides far too many families. Those families transfer down generation sickening attitude. To summarise - Muslims, Christians or any other imaginary friend followers - as long as not trying to enforce religious rules making others to obey them - let them pray at home to whichever of gods they want. Human decency hasn't been built on sacred books but on common experience built over the thousands of years. Remove religion from the arguments and then not much would be left to argue about. Work hard and don't rely on others to think on your behalf, respect people and have own ambitions. This should cover the most

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