Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

26 October 2006

Point:Counterpoint


Jack Straw may have met his match.

Like Straw, another man has caused controversy concerning his views on the Muslim head scarf or hijab.

There's a slight difference, though: about 180 degrees' worth.

From the BBC:
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat".

The Sheik's remarks suggested that women with their heads uncovered were asking to be raped.

I'm not certain, but I feel that voicing a personal discomfort with veils is a far cry from saying women with their hair down are asking for it.
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat?" he asked.

Um ... Clearly it is the fault of the meat for being uncovered. Eminently logical.

But still, around here we kick the cat (as long as Mme Metro's not looking).

The Sheik has claimed to have been misinterpreted. Just, presumably, as he was misinterpreted when he spoke of the New York terror attacks as "God's work against oppressors"?

In Australia, not the most noteably tolerant of nations, Hilali's remarks have generated a lot of hard feedback, with the Prime Minister and most of the political leadership calling for an apology.

On the bright side, the leader of Australia's largest Muslim organization has condemned the sermon. On the other hand, he has also stated that the board of the Lebanese Muslim Association is "still reviewing" the remarks.

Sheik Hilali has apologized. Will this satisfy people? One is drawn to consider comparisons to the apology the Pope was forced into some time ago.

For my part, I feel that whenever one is sitting on a powderkeg (and Sydney doubtless is as the anniversary of the Cronnulla race riots approaches), one can almost always count on some @$$#0!3 to show up with a can of gasoline and a lit cigar.

7 Comments:

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous raincoaster said...

So if Jack Straw is ill at ease in the presence of veiled women, Clearly it is the fault of the meat for being covered? Exactly how much clothing are women obliged to strip off to make their MPs feel better?

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger Metro said...

I feel Straw was right as far as saying that the veil deliberately creates a seperateness. It's the very purpose of the device.

I further agree that it is his right to say "I, personally, am uncomfortable speaking to a person whose face I can't see" which was the essence of his remarks.

I agree too, generally, that asking a veiled woman to unveil is a deep and sore "cultural misunderstanding" and he should probably know better.

But there's a world of difference.

In this post I'm taking the position that given the choice between "I would prefer that women not wear veils and I tell them so" and "Women without veils are asking to get raped" I know which side of the particular fence I come down on.

And to address the question of "how much to remove" beyond the veil (a-hem) is approaching the absurd. Right or wrong, the veil is all he ever asked.

 
At 4:44 AM, Anonymous raincoaster said...

You're not looking at the bigger picture. Does your MP have the right to tell you what you can or cannot wear, whether he's telling you to cover up or to peel off? No.

Whether or not a veil creates separateness is not the issue: a lycra camisole will also play up differences. A pair of shades will, too. Does your government representative have the right to alter your legal clothing choices to suit his own preferences? Or does that just apply to things you, yourself, do not like?

 
At 8:06 AM, Blogger Metro said...

Nowhere have I said that an MP has the right to make me do anything.

The bigger picture isn't about Straw's cultural prejudices--nor mine.

It's about his statement that the veil creates a barrier--which a camisole doesn't. Rather emphatically.

And if I'm talking to someone wearing shades indoors or at night, then that too creates a barrier. In fact, if we're talking about anything but whether to fold or raise then I would tend to think such a person was a prat.

But the point of this post is that there's a world of difference between "I think veiled women have a more difficult time participating fully in society" and "Unveiled women are asking to be sexually assaulted".

Or do you believe there isn't?

 
At 5:33 PM, Anonymous raincoaster said...

I believe there isn't.

Both are expressions of the desire to oppress; the difference is that in real life Jack Straw has a helluvalot more authority over people than some random Aussie mullah.

And a camisole DOES create a barrier; or have you forgotten the Maori? There are plenty of cultures to which the camisole is what the veil is to ours.

Could this really just be the difference between an absolutist and a relativist? I hadn't pegged you for a relativist, actually.

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Metro said...

I think there are many Muslims who might disagree with you as to the degree of authority held by one old white guy vice that held by a prominent spiritual leader. It seems this bloke is quite significant in the Aussie Muslim arena.

I'm afraid I had no idea the Maori wore camisoles. Totally shatters my ideal of dusky Pacific Islanderesses swaying gently in a frangible skirt and a couple of coconut husks (optional) ... still not a bad picture though.

I suppose I'm a relativist of sorts. Ethics are always situational in real life, anyway.

And again, in preference to advocating sexual assault I'll take violation of someone's religious beliefs any day.

 
At 1:18 AM, Anonymous raincoaster said...

But why do you feel you have to support either?

 

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