Bloody Hell Boris….

I’m sure you’ve seen this on the news or Twitter or Facebook or…..well pretty much anywhere really; there are probably even subterranean life forms debating Boris Johnson’s unfortunate comment at the moment. Do I mean ‘unfortunate’? Actually I’m not sure I do as that would imply that there was some element of bad luck involved whereas this was less to do with luck and more to do with judgement….or lack thereof.

NiqabThere is no doubt in my mind that the subject of banning the burka (or actually the niqab as that’s what the veil is called) is one that needs to be discussed in an adult and rational manner. Unfortunately a somewhat tactless politician and the British media got involved so the whole thing has descended into mud slinging and foot stamping with some accusations of racism thrown in for good measure.

What makes it worse (or ironic if you prefer) is that both sides are arguing the same thing but from different sides – oppression.

  • If women are not allowed to wear the burka and/or niqab their rights to free expression are being trampled on and that’s an act of oppression
  • Women who are forced to wear the burka and/or niqab are being oppressed full stop

This gives us a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation for Governments who are trying to decide whether a ban is a good idea or not. Personally I am not a great one for ‘banning’ anything and I think that Governments interfere far too much in the lives of ordinary people to the point where thinking for oneself seems to be actively dissuaded. With that in mind I decided to look into the origins of the veil to see if a solution could be found that would be agreeable to both sides.

Oddly enough, the first quote from the Qur’an I came across is actually directed at men and not women and was an instruction from Allah to the Prophet Muhammed:

Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them.”

This exact command was also then given to women. The message is clear; as was the norm 1300+ years ago, women should be modest in their dress and behaviour and men should not look lustfully at women (other than their wives). This seems fair and reasonable as it applies to both men and women and implies that there should be mutual respect between them. However, I fail to see how and instruction to both men and women about keeping their eyes downcast has translated to women covering everything but their eyes (except in some countries such as Saudi Arabia where even that may be required).

The next quote offered as evidence for the wearing of the veil was this one:

“…and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their bosoms…”

medeiveil dressThe khumur is a head-covering so we can assume that the advice is to allow the ends to trail over the chest area thereby covering up the breasts or that the head covering should/could be used to cover the breasts. Again, 1300 years ago pretty much ALL women wore head coverings and some, in the UK for example, wore veils and wimples (like those still worn by nuns today). However, for me (and I admit I am no religious scholar) this still does not indicate that a woman’s face should be covered; ‘except what is apparent’ would lead me to think of the face as ALL women, at the time, covered their hair and bodies as a sign of modesty.

My conclusion from this is that IF women choose to cover their bodies and their hair for whatever reason, whether it be religion or personal modesty, more power to them, it is not for any of us, male or female, to dictate what anyone else should wear. However, as covering the face completely does not appear to be a requirement on religious grounds and creates a security problem, as we not cannot identify the wearer, it would not seem unreasonable to ban the niqab.

What we should perhaps avoid (take note Boris) is taking a highly emotive subject and making an, honestly, pretty weak joke about it. It didn’t offend me (although I can see how it would offend others) and I think that it has been blown out of all proportion by the media (surprise, surprise) but this really was a case of ‘engage brain before opening gob’! Free speech should be something that we all hang on to for dear life as, without it, we are destined to end up like Winston Smith but, if you stick your finger in a hornet’s nest, you have to accept you’re going to get stung. I think Boris is probably used to being stung and doesn’t a great deal but it’s a shame that his words have pretty much buried the opportunity to have a sensible discussion; ho hum! politics would be so much easier without politicians ;O)

This is all just my opinion based on what I’ve read on the subject; I’d love to hear yours!




  11 comments for “Bloody Hell Boris….

  1. August 11, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Ironically Boris usually looks ridiculous himself, shirt hanging out, never smart. Oldies on the beach wearing hardly anything or any groups who dress totally in black on a hot day, mising their Vitamin D. Yes lots of people look ridiculous in their choice of clothes but within limits we are free to choose. However the covering of the face does annoy me. When I worked at Heathrow all humanity was on view – some ladies (or they could be men, who knows – this is a security issue as well ) were quite scary; with metal nose beaks and glasses, no glimpse of humanity. In the little Kuwait business lounge where my company did light catering, the educated Muslim ladies, elegantly dressed in soft colours and open smiles, were very disdainful of the hidden ladies in black ‘How can a mother not let her child see her smile’ one said to me. You can communicate with people who don’t speak the same language, gestures, smiles, but if you cannot see their face… Some amusing aspects; how awkward it is to eat a sandwich or sip tea with your mouth covered… and if a husband’s friend turned up his wife would have to move to another seating area, so we were faced with passengers who all looked the same and kept moving, we had no idea who to give which refreshments to.
    Back out in the general community we read others’ faces all the time, who is friendly and happy to talk to a stranger on the bus, get to know each other at the school gates. Those with their face covered cannot engage with anyone let alone be integrated into the whole community.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Thanks so much for your comment and I agree that reading facial expressions is a huge part of communication.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. August 11, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Nothing should be forced. It should a freedom of choice by the individual.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. August 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    This can be argued from all sorts of angles, none of which would be agreed to by all.
    Freedom of speech – we each have the right to say whatever we want to about anyone we choose.
    It is not illegal to upset others.
    An elected representative should be extra careful about what (s)he says.
    Forcing anyone to do something they do not agree to is wrong.
    Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes

    There are any number of matters for debate, the above being a few – none of which I am arguing for, or against. I can see merit on both sides of the arguments, a thing that intensely annoys my wife!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      You are right Peter it’s a very complex subject.
      Ah you play devil’s advocate – that’s no bad thing; I’m not sure that there are many absolutes in life 😊 x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. blindzanygirl
    August 12, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Too true Lisa. A really good write, here. Ban Boris lol xo

    Liked by 1 person

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