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The veil debate: let’s use common sense

 Published on: 17th September 2013   |   By: Nik Allen

woman in veilShould women wear the full-face veil in public? I think we Brits are pretty laid back about the issue – providing common sense prevails.

If a woman wants to do her shopping in the local high street or wander through a park in a full-face veil, so be it. Personally I would rather be able to see a person’s face, to read their expressions and demeanour, but I can appreciate we are all different (some people probably don’t fancy seeing me in my cycling kit but I still wear it).

But there are logical exceptions: passing through airport security and giving evidence in court being the two most obvious.

I also believe anyone under the age of 18, for example students, should not be allowed to wear the full veil at school and college. I think it takes maturity to be able to decide whether or not to take that step and that only comes with age.

What I find frustrating about this issue is that many people consider expressing a view on it as a right wing attack.

This was demonstrated this week when a judge ruled that a woman facing criminal charges must remove her veil while giving evidence. The judge was criticised for being insensitive and breaching her human rights but in fact anyone reading his comments in full could only conclude that he had given the matter fair consideration and was far from racist or right wing.

Obviously some people are motivated by a right wing agenda, but not everyone. In fact I think the majority of people who express reservations on the full-face veil are far from extremist.

It’s ironic that the people championing freedom of expression so vigorously, immediately label any dissenting opinion as bigoted and therefore obsolete.

I am also struck by the irony that a debate which prompts so many views, seems to lack the opinions of the women at the centre of the issue.

I would love to hear more from women who wear the full-face veil. An item this week on Channel 4 news on the issue featured a number of people having their say on the issue, but only one woman who opted for the full-face veil would speak on camera (and would only give her first name).

I keep reading women wear the full-face veil because they choose to and are not repressed or downtrodden. It would be great to hear that view first hand.


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