GUEST BLOG: Cottonsocks – Response to NZH editorial

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Malcolm-X-newspaper-quote

Your editorial about the Muslim lady refused a Job at the jeweller’s caught my attention. I was initially shocked, asking myself when did we congratulate a discriminating business for their honesty?! And after reading your article entirely, I reflected: would we do it with others whom we did not perceive as a threat to Western values?

I also wondered about your paternalistic “get used to it” advice. Is it really just about getting used to it, like we did the “curry-munchers” — just because we’ve now warmed to butter chicken? Or is it about considering for a moment an alternative paradigm in the spirit of “debating meaning and purpose” as you said?
On that note, I saw no real “debate” in your article: first featured was the stereotypical western mind, fixated on the most conservative form of covering — women who “cover their face or themselves completely”, combined with the stereotypical speculation about their religion blaming them for arousing men.
Which, if you ask any Muslim woman, has absolutely nothing to do with their decision to cover. Rather, your “debate” has everything to do with an aberrant type of Western mindset: one that assumes that everything that people do differently from us is rather unfortunately (for them, and us) oppressive and irrational.
Of course there are male-dominated cultures in both East and West— consider how much women in our Western culture have to “do” to keep men aroused: is it a coincidence that the overwhelmingly compulsive fashion and appearance trends happen to be conveniently “fun” and “flirty”. Such by which a woman today is defined, in the name of apparently needing to perpetually assert a freedom every season, every week, every day.
And that’s regardless of weather by the way.
It appeared that your example of “debate” was to take that most conservative position, analyse it simplistically, sprinkle the stereotypes above, and garnish it with the conclusion that that attitude is completely at odds with the “rights asserted by women” — framing it into a rights discourse, forgetting how many centuries younger women’s rights discourse is in western legal jurisprudence. So, the important Western premise is that, since they do not do as we do, they have not yet been able to assert rights as we have.
I was at least relieved that arrogant ignorance was followed by a more openly inquisitive question — not surpirisinfly It involved an ideology not perceived to be at odds with western values. As for the answer to why “feminism in countries like ours is not challenging it” is perhaps because no sane person would try and argue that the cosmetics super-industry has answered the need for women to be able to assert their rights albeit through their apparent enslavement to it.
No sane person could argue that the modern western woman’s dress is the epitome and manifestation of a woman-driven rights movement, and not the
global monoculture that imposes ironically male-orchestrated dress culture.
So the reason may be that “feminism” — putting aside the simplistic nature of this term given that feminism is remarkably, and beautifully, diverse, and strong — would have far more to take issue with in today’s modern treatment and subjugation of women by mass means of global monoculture, than with a woman’s conscience to cover herself for God, and to remove her most base physical appearance as the defining aspect of identify, talent and ability.
And, that conscience is what enlightened Western, liberated, rights-protected, mindset congratulated in your editorial, failed this young lady on.
Of course, it also failed in giving her the chance to assert herself in a diverse society long established as multicultural and multireligious.

So for an editorial to make the infringing of a Muslim women’s rights about something to do with “tolerating this new covering up thing” because “we are not used to hoodies” (what?!) is precisely the blind attitude of superiority that has enabled us to keep under the carpet the sad plight of women today as amongst the worst in history; putting aside the “objectification” for a moment, just look at the rates of domestic violence, and overall treatment of women — in reality, even in this close-to-ideal world we assert ours to be in which we have become truly westernised, modernised and, according to such assumptions in your article, enlightened, ignoring the reality of a male-dominated, sexualised, “pornified” society in which abuse of women in many forms is higher than ever.

The most entertaining irony of “asserting rights to dress as they wish” is your trying to argue that “its too hot for you here” when as you pointed out, its actually more temperate here!

Who puts up that social barrier you mention? Perhaps it is the employer (and let’s not blame the anonymous defenceless customer here) who is apparently enlightened, being Western, but seemingly afraid of a long-standing reality in this country of diversity and migration, of major religions, civilisations and peoples. Or was the social barrier put up by the educated and integrated young lady who sought to serve all customers from behind the jewellery cabinet regardless of race or religion, appearance or attire, and who seems set to contribute much more to society.

It is no wonder that the only solution your editorial provided after the above analysis was: just put up with them and hope it works out, for that is the tone of tolerance you clearly set; putting up with because its a reality we have to live with, as opposed to positively acknowledging and engaging with it.

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Is that approach because we are not yet enlightened enough to fathom the possibility that there may be another paradigm that is equally (or, heaven forbid, maybe even more, in some ways) respecting of women than ours? And since we can’t, we have to tolerate out of pity, as we are not yet confident in our own dire situation, to be able to genuinely understand and respect a religion that we have come to be taught by the media over the years is the anti-thesis of western civilisation?

I am disappointed that you ignored the huge amount in common with what both civilisations seek, and laws and principles are seeking the same ends of human dignity, fairness, and the fulfilment of the highest human potential. If we undermine our own western ideals in not even giving the other a fair go, how can we claim the moral high ground as the preachers of fairness and human rights?

Let me help: embracing new ways of living requires confidence in one’s own identity. A Kiwi identity. That can be positively and proactively nurtured by nurturing an environment of genuine respect and acknowledgement of others’ cultural, religious — civilisational — roots. By engaging genuinely with all wisdom and rationale we encounter in today’s global world. Wisdom that is very relevant today as we struggle to deal with our very own abuse of women while sensitive to any correlation with provocative dress, or with our issues of the social cost of alcohol, the impact of gambling etc.
It should be welcomed as healthy when a young women resists marketed fashion waves arriving daily under the pretext of it being an assertion of rights they will one day understand, instead maintaining self-respect and self-dignity, adopting what suits, developing an individual identity either through dress or as some do, by letting their ability and overall human — not just physical — potential, define their interaction with others.
Your editorial does a great disservice for the critical roles our attitudes have to play in living together in NZ. We must exhort each other to understand and respect the other, honouring our own personal, communal, national, and civilisational roots through such honouring that of others. That is ultimately the fulfilment of human potential: to know one another. That does not remove our ability to choose how or when to interact, it simply informs it.
Whereas, a false celebration of ourselves by simplifying, stereotyping and blaming the other, thus rationalising pity and tolerance-by-necessity as a practical solution to migration, does a greater disservice to our own nation’s history of genuineness and fairness, than to anyone else.
It does also a disservice to those who have come here with a reasonable expectation of fairness and genuine engagement — like Fatima.
There is no clash of culture, even though you’ve manufactured a remarkable one. 
There is a need, not for tolerance, but for greater understanding — for knowing each other — and clearly the modern mass media is not where all (or some might say, any) of that understanding will be found, but, there is a great responsibility upon us all — especially if we choose to write about it as opposed to reprint what comes through international airwaves — to provide play a more constructive role in such important societal issues. 
Yet, your editorial epitomised the unsafe road of easily strained tolerance-by-necessity NZ could head down, following the outside corruption — including through large international corporate media — of our earlier standards of openness and fairness. That global corruption of Kiwi fairness to all, rather than a young woman adopting a certain dress code, is what we should direct our national concern to. Thus, a more organic course for us is to cement that fairness and openness with a basic understanding of some of the features of our complex world. We must set aside any western-influenced attitudes of superiority that is completely antithetical to our Kiwi values — even our world champion sportsmen reflect the humility and respect of our culture of fairness with almost every interview. We must resist the perpetuation of the false “clash of cultures” notion, and return to openly and fairly engaging with people, who come from a diversity of geo-political situations. This starts with at least starting with a working understanding of such a civilisation — which will never stand a chance with the “such practises are certainly nothing to do with us, but we should put up with it, given we are the enlightened” attitude. 
Cottonsocks
Bio: Born and bred in the big city; has now retreated to reflect in rural calm, while remaining interested and concerned about the challenges and impact of international political dynamics on the positive and fair attitude amongst peoples in NZ. 
An ethical-chocolate lover, and a keen advocate for fair-trade and human rights. 

88 COMMENTS

  1. Well what about the rights of the shopkeeper ,his mistake was stating the reason of his not employing her.
    If we went into an eastern country and tried to get a job in a shop and wore a mini skirt,do you think we would be employed?

    Journalists, women in high government positions etc wear head covering visiting muslim countries because we have respect for their beliefs,but when muslims come to western countries they make no attempt to respect our way of life , they try to make us fit in with them.

    In the UK muslims have taken over large areas of cities that even police wont enter,because sharia law has taken over.
    I have nothing against muslim people living in NZ ,but to try to sue someone because he didn’t want her wearing coverings that might put people off shopping there,its his business.
    Better if the government made businesses pay a fair wage than punish them because object to what women wear.
    I personnaly find the total covering of faces offensive, they could be anyone, I think men subjecting their women to this kind of dress is far more to blame than a shopkeeper.
    The women themselves who wear the hijab put up barriers more effectively than any other thing, no where in the Koran states that women should cover their faces or wear certain clothes ,it a man thing because of the belief that women are their possessions and don’t want
    any man coverting their wives. That’s where the objection of feminists should come from ,not encouraging Muslim men to continue the domination of females.

    • So much uninformed bigotry in your post. Where to begin.

      I don’t know about you but I have never been asked to adhere to a muslim tradition in NZ. I have never actually met any one who has had a muslim force them to fit in with muslim traditions in NZ. Its the classic transference. A muslim comes to NZ and keeps a large portion of their cultural heratige and don’t immediately take on our culture and all of a sudeden they are forcing us to do something. Dammit why can’t the stupid muslim woman work out she should want to wear a mini skirt and look hot for me. Thats it she is forcing me to be a muslim by seeing her hat.

      There are no area’s in the UK where police can’t go. When this bollox was stated on Fox news even they had to admit that it was in no way true and that there is not a single place that could be pointed to where UK law is not the law enforced.

      Quite clearly you do have something against Muslims as you have said that the simmple act of wearing a scarf on the head offends you. How rediculous. How can a person’s hat be offensive? unless you are looking for something easily identifiable as being Muslim to be offended by.

      Save your mock concerns for the rights of the buisness owner. All you see is another person fighting the good fight against those evil muslims invading NZ.

      • I said hijab offends me not the scarfe, when a woman wears total covering of her head and face how can she intergrate into the society she chose to live in,no one can communicate with a curtain,no one knows who she is.
        I am not against muslims or any other race,you are the one with a judgement.
        If the shop owner said no to her application she could have left and got a job somewhere else, no need for all the fuss ,she wanted her rights accepted but denied him the right to employ whom he wished.
        Im not trying to tell her what to wear,a scarfe is just a scarfe,but the shopkeepers rights should be respected as well,as for your comment about me wanting her to wear a bikini,
        what a load of rubbish ,my comment was we wouldn’t be allowed to wear what we want in her country ,and we wouldnt try,we would respect their laws.
        Whole communities in uk are under sharia law ,what would happen in muslim countries if we tried to take over a large area and claim christianty. Anything commented upon about other races is always said to be racism ,its an old chestnut designed to get their own way. I didn’t say muslims try to force us to be muslims,thats your idea, you are the bigot not me,the business owner dosnt have to dislike muslims just because he dosnt want a woman wearing a scarfe in his shop,the choice of what anyone wears is up to her.She can wear the hijab if she likes ,I don’t have to approve,because I believe its a mans rule not a religious requirement. ps im a woman I don’t get turned on by bikinis.

        .

    • I personnaly find the total covering of faces offensive, they could be anyone, I think men subjecting their women to this kind of dress is far more to blame than a shopkeeper.
      The women themselves who wear the hijab put up barriers more effectively than any other thing, no where in the Koran states that women should cover their faces or wear certain clothes ,it a man thing because of the belief that women are their possessions and don’t want
      any man coverting their wives. That’s where the objection of feminists should come from ,not encouraging Muslim men to continue the domination of females.

      And yet, if you demand/force women to wear what you deem is the ideal of personal freedom for women – how does that differ from the men who tell women what to wear?

      Imagine yourself in the middle of two forces – both demanding you adhere to their principles, because it’s the “right” thing to do.

      Who’s principles do you choose?

      Or, do you tell them both to back off and let you decide for yourself?

      But I’m not a woman, so what would I know about telling another person what they can/can’t wear…

    • Thank you for your comments Elle. I’m glad you took the time to read the article, even though I am unsure from your comments as to whether it broadened your horizons at all. I was trying to highlight the issues of stereotyping, ignorance, and a superiority. All of which features in your response. As for how rights work, we can’t say that a robber had the right to rob, because we draw a line somewhere. Discrimination is unacceptable. The “shopkeeper” (actually, a rather large company) distanced itself from the decision, and rightly so. But the NZ Herald editorial which I responded to, seemed a bit confused about whether the company did the right thing, even when the company was quite clear that it did not.

      As for your comments about the Middle East and the Koran, and Muslim men, I simply ask you as others here have, to consider that life and the world is a little more nuanced than your view of these things. Consider how invasion from western countries have created the vacuum for extremism to flourish in places where it was unheard of, and how that has allowed males to finally exploit females in a way they could never have before.

      Elle, we would do well to be a little more inquisitive, rather than presumptuous, and that was my point to the editor, and is again to you. Thank you.

      • Cottonsocks, I admire your calmness in the face of a whole heap of bigotry. I hope you keep writing. I’ll keep looking out for your blogs.

  2. My understanding is that Fatima Mohammadi was not refused to job because she was muslim but because she insisted on wearing head covering. Not all muslims wear the hijab, Fatima chooses to do so, and that is her right. It is not her right, however, to force someone to employ her when her choice clearly impacts on her effectiveness in her job.

    • Sorry?! How does wearing a head covering “clearly impact on her effectiveness in her job”?!

      Methinks you’re trying to justify clear discrimination on the flimsiest of grounds.

    • Hello Daniel

      You may have swallowed the false assertion of others who commented that the young woman was trying to force Pascoes to employ her.

      Forcing someone to employ you: as ridiculous as that sounds, it’s amazing what people can accuse others of when hindered by stereotypes.

      She was simply trying to be considered for a job based on the relevant criteria, not on her headscarf.

      You may wish to think for a moment about how dangerous it is for people to be refused to be even considered for a job for something that has nothing to do with their ability to do it.

  3. This post comes across as an apologetic for Islam: I disagree with pretty much all of it., and I concur with both Elle and Daniel.
    You accuse the Herald editorial of paternalism, yet you yourself do a nifty line in patronisation. Please desist from lecturing the rest of us on what and how we should think about Muslims.
    Here’s the thing: Muslim societies are mostly misogynist. The burqa and hijab are means by which women are controlled, despite claims to the contrary. Neither garment is prescribed by the Koran. Muslim women who migrate here are perfectly free to stop wearing them. I’d go further and argue that they should stop wearing them; failure to do so is evidence of ethnic chauvinism. As Elle points out, Western women who go to Muslim countries are obliged to cover their heads because of local custom. Here we don’t systematically cover our heads or bodies in that fashion: Muslims should conform to our way of life.
    I’ve been around a long time. I can assure you that bigotry and discrimination against immigrants has a deep history in NZ. Our family has had personal experience of it, as have thousands of others. All that stuff about Kiwi fairness and a fair go is just a soothing little farytale we like to tell ourselves. Just another form of ethnic chauvinism, really.

    • Muslim woman have a saying.

      Take your bombs and guns home and take our me (the woman of the Middle East being ISIS’d) and the children to.

      We should question the motivations of young adolescent men who martyr themselves for 70 virgins.

      And emulate that sacrifice in life, with among other crimes against children such as child brides being forced to consummate te marriage.

      I do not how ever believe for a second that western religion is some how immune from such revolting practices. Just google cult to find any number of current western religions fiddling with children and other buggery. Not linking. I’ll come back to this point

      So there seems to be to sides of the argument.

      One is that Muslims/ Islam is jelous of western success in science, relegion, quality of life and politics, and that there unruly nature is a kind of final convulsive rejection of western success.

      The second argument and the truth of the matter is that for 200 years. Successive imperialist powers, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Btritan again, Russia, then the U.S and Russia again, have been meddling in the affairs of the Middle, to grab land, resources and all the nice stuff we in the west enjoy as some sort of gods gift.

      Just because Middle eastern religions are 200 years behind western religions doesn’t give westerners the right to throws stones. Your arguments neither strengthen your assertions or beliefs that the people of the Middle East must be again denied there religions.

      The people of the Middle East have died for the luxuries we enjoy in the west. And they are sending false price signals back at us in the form of airliners into oblivion. They are saying the price we pay for oil is unfair.

      you really don’t have a clue. No amount of intellectual swear will appease the people of the Middle East now. We either take our sanctimonious bullshit out of the Middle, that means a full withdrawal or face infinit jihad.

      • Was this supposed to be funny.

        “Just because Middle eastern religions are 200 years behind western religions doesn’t give westerners the right to throw stones”

        I think we know which barbaric religions like to throw stones at people.

      • Dear Sam,

        One thing that we have to be weary of in such discussions in mixing geopolitical situations with characterising religions or peoples that feature in them.

        You’ve obviously identified some issues in present day conflicts. You’ve also made some remarkable generalisations about Middle Easter religions.

        I’m not sure what you mean about western religions being 200 years ahead. What I was trying to argue was that both Muslims and the West can learn a lot from each other. Islam had granted rights to women many many centuries before the “West”, while the West today has made advancements for women that Muslim countries need to take urgently from. That was the point.

        • It wasn’t my best talk, I admit that. When I said Middle East religions are behind. I meant that in economic terms.

          As an example. Before the British occupied Egypt in the 1880’s. Egypt was poised to overtake America as the number 1 cotton producer in the world. So Britain introduces a series of draconian labour laws and cut off Egypts cotton producers from markets, from getting a fair price for there labour. Cutting market access prevented Egypt from going through an industrial revolution like the one Britian experienced just 60 years prior.

          You only get one shot at an industrial revolution, for lack of better words we took that away from them and destroyed there enlightenment.

          Its the same with oil. Western govs restrict market access all the time. These people are just to busy being poor to worry about how they are perceived in the west.

          • Sam: “Britain introduces a series of draconian labour laws and cut off Egypts cotton producers from markets, from getting a fair price for there labour. Cutting market access prevented Egypt from going through an industrial revolution like the one Britian experienced just 60 years prior.”

            The British Raj did something similar in India. However, since independence, India has become a very large economy.

            The Middle East (for want of a better characterisation) didn’t experience an Enlightenment, as Europe did. Many commentators are of the view that this is at the root of much of what ails that part of the world.

            There’s no doubt that imperial meddling has done enormous damage to the Middle East. However, none of that justifies misogyny. Nor should we women just stand by and allow it to permeate any further into our society than it already has.

            • My concern is that your view is a western one. I am quiet certain Muslim woman want justice as you prescribe.

              I am also convinced that western countries should offer full immunity from prosecution to Middle East dictators that leave there respective hell holes. After holding proper elections supervised by the UN. So these countries can solve there own problems with in there own infrastructure. And no meddling from western countries.

              This would posse a great problem for Israel as my proposal would also mean no more western military aid.

              Then we can worry about woman’s rights in the Middle East

              • Sam: “Then we can worry about woman’s rights in the Middle East’

                I’ll go with worrying about them first, thank you very much.

                Moreover, I’m very much concerned with women’s rights here. Of course I have a Western perspective: that doesn’t make it wrong, you know.

                • I’m saying stabilise the bloody (emphases on blood) region so woman in the Middle East can finally have a say and give a direction from there perspective.

                  • “Moreover, I’m very much concerned with women’s rights here. Of course I have a Western perspective: that doesn’t make it wrong, you know.”

                    No, it just clouds your views. If you can only see things from a western perspective that blinds you to other, equally valid perspectives. It’s called chauvinism, Merrial.

    • Muslim women who migrate here are perfectly free to stop wearing them. I’d go further and argue that they should stop wearing them; failure to do so is evidence of ethnic chauvinism

      Merrial, hmmmm… So you advocate that muslim women “should stop wearing them”… and then you suggest that otherwise “failure to do so is evidence of ethnic chauvinism”?!

      Do you see what you’ve written?

      Muslims should conform to our way of life.
      I’ve been around a long time. I can assure you that bigotry and discrimination against immigrants has a deep history in NZ.

      Yes. It has. It starts with trying to force everyone to “conform”.

      My parents suffered it as well. They weren’t muslim. They just had a funny accent.

      No doubt the ignorant oafs who swore at my mother, with young children in tow, telling her to “go back where she came from” – they just wanted her to “conform”, right?

      Our family has had personal experience of it…

      Really, Merrial? So did mine.

      Difference is, it made me sensitive to it. If you understand how it feels, personally, you should understand how that young woman must feel also.

      Otherwise, you learned nothing from a valuable experience.

      • Frank: it looks as if you have either misread or not read properly either the original post or my comment on it.

        The author of the post talked about that great Kiwi myth of fairness and the fair go, as if this were the usual way of things, until now when we’ve all started being mean to Muslims. I raised the issue of our experience to illustrate that there’s nothing new in any of this.

        And yes, it’s good old-fashioned prejudice, discrimination, whatever you want to call it. but it ain’t racism. It’s just part of the human condition to be wary of people who don’t look or talk like us. We’re a groupish species, and that stuff goes with it.

        Of course I think Muslim women should abandon the hijab and the burqa, and conform to our ways of doing things. In general, secular societies, where citizens share common values and ways of doing things, work better. Many Muslims are coming here in search of a free and safe society: why cling to the symbols of oppression? Many Muslim women worldwide wear neither garment, yet they continue to be practising Muslims.

        It’s worth pointing out that there have been Muslims here for many years, yet the hijab was scarcely seen at all before about 2001, let alone the burqa.

        I’m primarily interested in the rights of women. I also live in a society where freedom of speech is valued. I’m free to say these things, and I want it to stay that way.

        • And yes, it’s good old-fashioned prejudice, discrimination, whatever you want to call it. but it ain’t racism.

          D’Esterre, I believe that fine distinction might be lost if you were the person at the end of such discrimination-but-not-racism.

          It seem that you’ve missed the irony of your comments where you state on one hand ; “Of course I think Muslim women should abandon the hijab and the burqa, and conform to our ways of doing things.”

          Then state on the other; “I’m primarily interested in the rights of women”.

          Do you not see it?

          How can you be “interested in women’s rights” (or any rights for that matter) when your expectation also includes ‘conformity’.

          In the 1950s and 60s, ‘conformity’ required Western women to stay at home and not even contemplate a career outside the family home. Their roles were to cook, clean, and have babies. That was it.

          ‘Conformity’ is not a word I usually associate with women’s rights.

          • ” and conform to our ways of doing things.”

            Then state on the other; “I’m primarily interested in the rights of women”. ”

            Nothing contradictory at all about this, Frank. Of course promoting women’s rights will entail conforming to our ways of doing things.

            Our laws don’t allow FGM, forced marriage, provisions of sharia law which discriminate against women, domestic violence, marital rape. And by convention, women aren’t obliged to wear the hijab or the burqa.

            These are good things about our society, even if it isn’t perfect with regard to women’s rights.

            Once upon a time, my views about the hijab and the burqa were much more live-and-let-live. But since then, I’ve read up a great deal more about Islam and Muslim societies, including the Koran; that reading radically changed my opinions.

          • “In the 1950s and 60s, ‘conformity’ required Western women to stay at home and not even contemplate a career outside the family home. Their roles were to cook, clean, and have babies. That was it.”

            Bunkum. Obviously you weren’t around during that time. Who do you think was teaching us, nursing us, fixing our teeth, doing the typing in the typing pools?

            My late mother was a graduate of Otago University; there was a big cohort of women there with her during the 1920s. Her experience wasn’t unusual. Come to that, my late mother-in-law was an engineer, with an accountancy qualification as well.

            • Our laws don’t allow FGM, forced marriage, provisions of sharia law which discriminate against women, domestic violence, marital rape.

              Correct. And quite rightly so. However, those laws apply to everyone, regardless of ethnicity. (Aside from which the Koran makes no mention of FGM, so any religious connection whether from a Muslim or non-Muslim, is spurious.)

              What’s the bet that had an english-speaking, white woman attended an interview wearing a head-scarf, this problem would not have arisen?

              Bunkum. Obviously you weren’t around during that time. Who do you think was teaching us, nursing us, fixing our teeth, doing the typing in the typing pools?

              And generally speaking, D’Esterre, those were the limited sorts of employment permitted women prior to the 1970s.

              Their roles in employment and politics were certainly not what they are today. There may have been exceptions but that is what they were; exceptions.

              Any other assertion on your part is an attempt to re-write history to prove your point (whatever it is).

              Trying to deny the racism meted out to Ms Mohammadi is compounded by your insistence that she “conform”.

              “Conform” to what? Your standards?!

              That’s not feminism. I’m not sure what it is, but it has nothing to do with women’s rights.

              In fact, your statement “Of course promoting women’s rights will entail conforming to our ways of doing things” reeks of another “f” word – fascism.

              Conform – or else! Is that the threat? “Would you like a shiny new uniform with that as well?”

              No thanks. I will support Ms Mohammadi’s right to wear her headscarf and not be discriminated against.

              Just as I would support your right likewise.

              • Frank: “the Koran makes no mention of FGM,”

                It makes no mention of the hijab or burqa, either. Which is precisely the point being made.

                “In the 1950s and 60s, ‘conformity’ required Western women to stay at home and not even contemplate a career outside the family home. Their roles were to cook, clean, and have babies. That was it”

                As has been pointed out, clearly you are wrong about this. Talking about limited career options doesn’t get you out of that hole.

                “..another “f” word – fascism…. “Would you like a shiny new uniform with that as well?”

                Just a hint of going Godwin there, Frank. I expect better of you.

                • Merrial: “Just a hint of going Godwin there, Frank. I expect better of you.”

                  But only when you agree with him, right Merrial? And if you don’t and he takes you up on it, you engage in an obsessive vendetta to undermine his capabilities? Never mind Godwin, I call bigot.

        • Another voice from a white, english speaker speaking from privilege. Yes D’Esterre, I mean you. You have no right to expect conformity from another human being. What do you think gives you that right?

          It’s called privilege.

          If muslim women want to change their clothing that is their decision and not one you are entitled to demand.

        • “I’m primarily interested in the rights of women. ”
          No your not.Your racist. Otherwise you’d be sticking up for the right women to wear what they like.

        • D’Esterre, how can you be ad advocate for women’s rights and edemand conformity from them?????????

          That’s not women’s rights advocacy at all. That’s expecting women conform, the same demand fundamentalists demand of their women in other countries!!!

        • D’Esterre, your no more interested in women rights than the Catholic Church or the Taliban. Insisting that women conform is one step away from chaining them to the kitchen. Where do you get off demanding anyone conforms to your standards??

        • “Of course I think Muslim women should abandon the hijab and the burqa, and conform to our ways of doing things. ”

          That is so highly offensively chauvinistic that I’m appalled that you can’t see it, D’Esterre. You seem to have taken on the role of dictating what muslim women should wear, from the men in their culture. You don’t find that deeply ironic, do you?

    • Thanks Merrial. I do not mind that you disagree with my post.

      The whole idea of my post was for there to be a proper and open debate based on openness and the ability to critique any religion or civilisation.

      I agree that I came across as lecturing a bit, but that is because the NZ Herald editorial has a heavy responsibility to write responsibly.

      As for your lecturing us from when you start with “here’s the thing” and proceed to tell us about what Burqa, Hijab and the Koran means and says, and then what all Muslim women must do, and then what happens in “Muslim countries” and even how long you’ve been around, and what you assure us of given that. Well, it doesn’t appear to be very open to any real diversity whatsoever. Rather than letting me tell you of the diversity and complexity of our world — from “Muslim” countries to Muslim women — take a look around: the world today asks of us a little more than to speak arrogantly and ignorantly about peoples and civilisations where obviously know very little about.

      • Thank you Frank and Cottonsocks for your insights.

        And shame on people like Elle, Merria, D’Esterre, and others of their ilk with their racist attitudes. And shame more for posting their bigotry here instead of Whaleoil where it would be more suited.

        I hope the young woman in question doesn’t expect all New Zealanders to be so bigotted. Most Kiwis are willing to be open minded, fair, and willing to give people of other religions a fair go.

    • Merrialif you’ve experienced discrimination yourself, why do you think it’s ok to do it to someone else? Arguing that muslim women stop wearing their headscarves is the kind of patriarchal repression that women have fought against in the west.

      Blaming the muslim woman for ethnic chauvinism for chauvinism is a joke. If anyone is practicing chauvinism then it’s the privileged white, english speakers to demand conformity at the expense of our culture and individuality.

      I know you are white because it comes across in your attitudes toward us who are not the same skin colour as you. I believe it’s called privilege.

  4. And while we’re at it, prejudice and bigotry aren’t racism. That’s the purview of governments. Luckily NZ’s laws and political institutions aren’t racist.

    • Merrial, that has to be the most bizarre statement I’ve read in a long time. You’ve either no idea what you’re talking about – or are trolling.

      I can’t figure out which.

      • Frank, no amount of assertion on your part will make racism out of something that isn’t. Go look it up.

        • D’Esterre — if a white english woman wearing a head scarf had applied for the same job with similar qualifications, what do you think would’ve happened? Do you think the interviewer would’ve asked her if she intends wearing the headscarf all the time?

          I’ll tell you what would’ve happened: nothing. She would’ve got the job.

          That’s racism. It happens here in New Zealand and until you’ve lived in my skin you don’t know anything.

        • D’Esterre, in my experience, racists all too often deny their racism. To do otherwise means they’d have to admit their attitudes and confront them.
          Having read the comments here by you, Elle, and Merrial., I am disturbed to read such openly racist views being expressed on a supposedly left-wing, progressive blog.
          Have you checked you white privilege lately?

    • “And while we’re at it, prejudice and bigotry aren’t racism. That’s the purview of governments. ”

      No, it’s the purvue of people who are racist or worse, try to minimise it away.

      You are privileged to live in your white skin and speak english, Merrial. If you lived in my brown skin, with Samoan heritage, you’d see the world through different eyes. Ever been refused entry to a night-club while white kids are allowed in? (No, I don’t drink, so never been drunk.) When that happens to you, come back to me. Until then, you’re just another white person telling me what my world is like and not doing a good job at it.

    • Hi Merrial. Maybe you should try being a brown girl like me for a day. You might learn the prejudice and bigotry are the same as racism. I’m guessing you are a white girl?? Figures.

    • “And while we’re at it, prejudice and bigotry aren’t racism. That’s the purview of governments”

      Are you for real?

    • “And while we’re at it, prejudice and bigotry aren’t racism. That’s the purview of governments. Luckily NZ’s laws and political institutions aren’t racist.”

      LMAO!!!

  5. I find it fascinating that the progressive/left in the West has found itself in the position of Chief Apologist for radical Islam – which at its core is essentially fascist in nature.

    How on earth did this come about?

    I have a few ideas myself but I’d like to hear your views on the subject.

    • “I have a few ideas myself but I’d like to hear your views on the subject.”

      No, you don’t, Andrew. You just want your bigotry validated.

      The same bigotry you’ve expressed toward unions, beneficiaries, poor people, etc. With so much prejudice in you, I’m surprised you can leave your home during the day – so many different ethnicities!

      You and the Ku Klux Klan would be very chummy together, wouldn’t you?

      • “You and the Ku Klux Klan would be very chummy together, wouldn’t you?”

        So, Frank: are you interested at all in Andrew’s views, or do you wish only to ad hom?

        • D’Esterre , Andrew’s right wing rubbish barely merits a sensible reply. The fact you agree with him puts you firmly in his Tory camp. Be careful of that, the smell lingers.

    • Andrewo: “I find it fascinating that the progressive/left in the West has found itself in the position of Chief Apologist for radical Islam – which at its core is essentially fascist in nature.
      How on earth did this come about?”

      Andrew, my view on this is that, in pursuit of civil rights in the US, and the dismantling of the truly appalling apartheid regime in South Africa, the left/progressives were on the side of the angels. These causes were indeed worthy, and people here who protested against the Springbok tour in 1981 – of which I was one – recognise that our protests helped contribute to the ending of apartheid.

      Trouble is, it seems to me that many of those people forgot about human nature. We’re all people, whatever our skin colour: brown and black folk are as prone as the rest of us to incompetent government, corruption and all-round bad-guyness.

      The result is that some on the left have trouble drawing a bright line between what’s acceptable – and what isn’t – on the part of brown-skinned people. They have no such difficulty criticising bad behaviour when it’s white people doing it, though.

  6. The ability to see someone’s face is fundamental to human contact. I find people who make the choice in western democratic society to wear the niqab or even worse the burka as offensive because the wearer is making a decision to shun human contact.

    Why should I have anything to do with someone making such a choice, I certainly wouldn’t want to hire someone who feels this way about the people they work with and the society in which they live.

    • And yet, this character is one of the most popular in Western culture; http://tinyurl.com/qd6jgdk

      Anyway, we’re not talking about a burkha. This is about Fatima Mohammadi wearing a simple headscarf. Very siumilar to what was once a popular fashion accessory hear in the West; http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zcJ7oFQrZT4/Tv2npzpmNOI/AAAAAAAAB-k/HVLSfPc0pSk/s1600/fashion%2Bheadscarf.jpg

      I suspec t this isn’t at all to do with a piece of fabric on a woman’s head. One word: racism.

      And masked as “feminism”, to boot.

      It’s a sad day for us…

      • Frank the article states that a business man refused to hire Fatima because she chose to wear a scarf, im not disputing she can wear whats she likes ,why dispute the shop owners decision to refuse her a job.
        A supermarket in northland will not allow women to show tattoos, they have to cover them up ,but no one is saying that’s wrong or racist,i dislike tattoos as well, but the woman are really nice people ,the supermarket employs people of any nationality, if any of them complained to the human rights because they weren’t allowed to wear tattoos would anyone take up their cause,? these people accept its the right of the employer,that is the point of my comments,not racism .

        • Frank the article states that a business man refused to hire Fatima because she chose to wear a scarf, im not disputing she can wear whats she likes ,why dispute the shop owners decision to refuse her a job.

          Because such “rights” relating to employment (or other activities) are not absolute.

          I have a blogpost coming that explains this in further detail – with examples of where so-calld “employer’s rights” eventually end up.

      • Frank: “I suspec t this isn’t at all to do with a piece of fabric on a woman’s head. One word: racism.

        And masked as “feminism”, to boot.”

        Why on earth are you so dead keen to defend symbols of oppression? What is it to you? It won’t be you who is asked to cover your head or wear a burqa if you visit a Muslim country. And it wouldn’t affect you at all, were such practices to become normative in this society. And don’t think it can’t happen.

        Putting up pictures of fashion trends: oh good grief! Difference was, we wore scarves like that or not, depending on how we wanted to look, or what the weather was like. They were a fashion statement, not for modesty, or because we couldn’t let men gaze upon our hair.

        Racism: oh for pity’s sake! Go look up a definition of racism.

        • Dear D’esterre

          I would ask you to consider, as I did the NZ Herald editor, that virtually all Muslim women in this country cover themselves because they want to. That is why freedom of religion and of conscience often go together.

          Being principled about something doesn’t mean it is wrong, if that principle is now alien to the west, is it?

          And no, people did not wear scarves just for fashion. People dressed for modesty and elegance, for modesty and womanliness. Values were different, or some might say, they existed then, but not anymore.

          So you see, if you’re insistent on seeing everything through the lens of the west today, you’re very much marginalising the history of even our parents who actually held strong values and as a result would not find the practising of such values as alien.

          Or even if they did find something alien, they may have had the inclination to inquire.

          • CottonSocks: “virtually all Muslim women in this country cover themselves because they want to.”

            It doesn’t at all follow from this, that such garments weren’t and aren’t intended to crimp the rights and freedoms of women. They are a means of controlling women: that’s their point, regardless of how Muslim women have justified to themselves the wearing of them.

            “People dressed for modesty and elegance, for modesty and womanliness. Values were different, or some might say, they existed then, but not anymore.”

            And herewith, the very reason why we women don’t need the spread of these garments in our society: the real risk of them becoming normative. Don’t think it can’t happen.

            Those of us who wore that scarf fashion back in the day were certainly not thinking about modesty: we wore them just because they were fashionable. And sometimes useful for keeping the rain off our hairset. Are you suggesting that, by not routinely covering our heads, NZ women aren’t modest? And are you suggesting that we no longer have values? Crikey… that’s a very long bow to draw.

            I’m not at all interested in forcing Muslim women to give up these garments. But I’d certainly encourage them to do so; the attitudes underlying your post are reason enough.

    • Simond — if you actually speak to a Muslim woman one day, they do not wear it because they feel you’ve got germs that will get on their hair or in their ears, they wear it because they believe that God asked them to, and they find it quite comfortable and natural doing it. Try it on sometime, or better yet, speak to someone who wears it. I feel that would be of great benefit to many arguing here.

      • Cottonsocks: “Simond — if you actually speak to a Muslim woman one day, they do not wear it because they feel you’ve got germs that will get on their hair or in their ears,…”

        I’ve scanned the comments, and I can’t find one where Simond said that this is what he believes. I’m puzzled that you’re putting words into his mouth, so to speak. Or did you yourself once believe this?

  7. Apparently some think the hijab represents a legacy of oppression and

    Apparently others can’t mind your own business and

    Andrew. I thought you where about to come out of the closet as a Muslim woman pain rack. Don’t be disappointed.

  8. Hello everyone

    Thanks for your comments on my quick response, which I see also has a few typos testament to the hour of writing worriedly about why I had not seen anyone take issue with it!

    I am quite worried about casually we can discuss such important issues to the future of our society.

    I hope you we all will do more to ensure we and others keep a truly open — and inquisitive – mind before proceeding to stereotype, generalise and assume — whether intentionally or not.

    Thank you
    CottonSocks

  9. It saddens me after reading so many comments here and after Frank’s blog that such racism is expressed so freely here on a leftwing blog. More than that, I’m disappointed that these views are not being challenged more strongly. I guess us brown folk have a long way to go yet.

    • An interesting point Kevesi.

      Consider how long “brown folk” have to go yet as you say, then consider on top of that how much negativity there has been continuously specifically about Islamic people’s over the last 20 years.

      Murder and mayhem gets the media ratings. Muslims seem to be not far from a lot of it, and typically only negative is reported by the media, right from say the first Gulf war in Iraq.

      So, you take the underbelly of racism, add a few decades of intense media negativity during information-age content saturation.

      We’ve done well in NZ thus far, but with ISIS, John Key talking about watch-lists, and not a lot of positive awareness around the Syrian refugees etc we now seem to be heading down the same road as less tolerant societies.

      And just telling people to be more tolerant, as you will see from comments under the NZ Herald Editorial I responded to, doesnt work very well. To maintain civility and objectivity in the face of being filled with negativity about such people, we wil have to learn about them — and that will enrich us all no end.

  10. Kevesi, Brown Girl and others who have accused me of being a “white girl” and, for that reason, castigated me for my views about women’s rights: you are making assumptions about my ethnic provenance. And then you do to me what you accuse me of doing to Muslims.

    I’d remind you that by no means all the hijab-wearers in NZ are brown. The same is probably true of those wearing the burqa, but the observer can’t tell.

    I’ve had a lifetime of experiencing casual ignorance and discrimination from other New Zealanders. I’m a New Zealand citizen: I’m a native speaker of NZ English. The same is true of my offspring; yet – among other things – we still field questions about our birthplace, with people surprised to hear that we’re NZ-born – especially said offspring. We find it irritating, but we don’t see it as racism, because it isn’t. We realise that NZers really don’t know very much about the variety of ethnicities which make up our population.

    Here’s a good-enough definition of racism from Wikipedia:

    “Racism consists of ideologies and practices that seek to justify, or cause, the unequal distribution of privileges or rights among different racial groups. Modern variants are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently.”

    Racism doesn’t in principle have anything to do with skin colour; I’d remind you what happened to the Jews of Europe – who were white folks – under the repellent racist Nazi regime. Ordinary people may well see others as inferior, but if a country’s legal and justice system is predicated on everyone being equal – as is the case here – then that regime isn’t racist. Prejudice and bigotry is the proper terminology for what ordinary people think and say; if people think they’ve been discriminated against on account of ethnicity or skin colour, they have recourse under our system. Which, of course, is how we found out about the case of the young Muslim woman.

    Laws can’t regulate what other people are thinking, but our laws restrict the extent to which they can act on their prejudices.

    With regard to some apparently rosy views expressed, or implicit in this thread, about Islam, here are a couple of links. I didn’t think it’d be necessary to post them, but the reaction above suggests otherwise:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/16/christians-middle-east-religion-islamic-state-linda-dorigo-andrea-milluzzi

    Also – and very important – read the Koran.

    • Laws are to protect the people. And I don’t see how your links strengthen your arguments.

      Before 2003, Bahgbad was a mix of Sunni and Shi’a. They use to say they will never be in conflict with each other ever again because of the close proximity of living arrangements. This saying was looked on with a sense of pride.

      Then of course the US went and destroyed every piece of infrastructure needed to sustain life in a desert, fracturing the community. And advancing political shi’a sock puppets to leadership positions. This reignited racial divides to now, the Middle East is ablaze with conflict.

      One of the unintended consequences of U.S actions in Iraq mrk2 was that Sunnis (more to the point, Supreme IS commander Al Bahgbadi) picked up the most extreme form of Saudi Islam, Wahadism, and made it more extreme, making Iran look like a tolerant nation.

      Al Bahgdadi wasn’t just looking for religion or a guid to suppressing woman, he was also looking for some one to buy his oil. The Saudi government doesn’t fund ISIS its self, Rich and powerful families do, with in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

      So the Koran has about zero to do with ISIS as the majority of Islamic Scolars said, ISIS has zero to do with Islam, so from now on, to remove the I out of ISIS, they now call them da’ish.

      As much as you would like to think that it is all Muslim men’s fault, they are only responding to the curcumbsrances created by western expositions into the Middle East. Because that is what has created the brutality that revolts you.

      In comparison to your first world problems, they aren’t all that mentionable.

      • Sam, I’m well aware of the history of the Middle East, who’s done what to whom and who isn’t paying, so to speak. And it’s the reason why the West should stay out of any conflict there; past intervention, whether or not well-intentioned, has just made matters worse.

        But adducing all that stuff skates dangerously close to an attempt at justification of the awfulness of those societies for women. None of that justifies misogyny.

        I assume that you read those links I posted. I put them up to counter what seems to be a roseate view of Islam, either implicit or explicit, expressed in the original post and in the comments thread.

        • I assume you’re asking speaking as a non-Muslim Westerner(like me)? If that’s the case, is this an accusation that should levelled at me? Perhaps we should not be telling other people what meaning they should find in things, especially people from other cultures.

          Tolerance which hinges upon other people seeing everything your way isn’t tolerance at all.

          And while there are surely things which are intolerable, it’s hard to explain choices in clothing being one…. especially when those choices can mean something completely different to those who wear them than you might first assume.

          I for one am under no illusion that the Islamic faith is under huge pressures to conform to western ideology. Islamic extremists reject democracy because underneath it they know if there way of life was put to a vote, they will lose miserably. This is why I’m all for giving Middle East dictators full immunity from prosecution in return for fair elections.

          So we have allowed regional Middle East issues to spread to our shores. As an example you have identified issues with the Islamic faith which is a kind of racial profiling that creates I kind of biased Imagration policy. Effectively creating a problem that didn’t previously exist out side the true believers kool aid party.

    • I don’t need to read the Koran, Merrial. I’m learning about racism from the posts that you, Elle, D’estere, and a couple of others are making.

      You and your friends insist you’re not racist but every time you post, it drips with coded bigotry and chauvinism .

      This has become an issue not about the young woman racially discriminated against, but about certain ‘TDB’ posters who feel no shame in expressing openly racist views.
      With all your posts, it’s not me, Cottomsocks, or Frank your trying to persuade, it’s yourselves. But trust me your views are racist and they are abhorrent.

      • Priss: “I don’t need to read the Koran, Merrial. I’m learning about racism from the posts that you, Elle, D’estere, and a couple of others are making.”

        So: you’re saying that reading the Koran would acquaint you with racism. Now that’s interesting. I’ve never characterised the Koran as racist; nor would I, actually, because it isn’t. But I recommend you do read it: it’ll give you a real insight into Islam.

        “You and your friends insist you’re not racist but every time you post, it drips with coded bigotry and chauvinism .”

        Well, there you have it; you accuse us of bigotry and chauvinism, but neither of those things is racism. Ergo, we aren’t racist.

    • Merrial, you say that “I’d remind you that by no means all the hijab-wearers in NZ are brown. ”
      But in this case, according to the image of the young woman in the New Zealand Herald, she clearly was brown. Hence when her interview was terminated, it was done so because she was identified as muslim by her skin colour. If that isn’t racism to you then you need to reassess your values and beliefs.

  11. Dear Merrial

    Your apparent concern for women being liberated away from the Burqa seems to be unfortunately intertwined with your very apparent Islamophobia.

    If you are indeed genuinely determined to free women of their being forced to wear other than what they want, and I’ve alluded to a diversity of such situations in the article, you may need to develop some tiny semblance of openness to understanding whatever people you wish to crusade for.

    That means your being unhindered by whatever your background is that has veiled you, in this case, veiled you from being able to objectively engage about Islam.

    You see, as I’ve alluded to in my new post today, Islamophobia is on the rise, but that only makes it easier to spot. Your posts unfortunately wreak from it. Im sure you don’t in reality, and it is perhaps something in my post that has irked you and brought this out in you. Indeed, you’ve repeatedly said it: it is my suggestion that Islam may have something to offer us, let alone have some good in it.

    I hope that your almost pathological inability to deal with this assertion, is something that you can resolve so that you can reconcile your concern for women with your paradigm and subconscious.

    Your posts don’t reflect the type of person who is easily open to criticism but perhaps you are offline: consider for a moment what reception your comments continue to draw, above, and why you’re on a slightly different page with your inability to see past Islam, let alone enter into a constructive discussion about headscarves in NZ society.

    • Cottonsocks: “Your apparent concern for women being liberated away from the Burqa seems to be unfortunately intertwined with your very apparent Islamophobia.”

      And here’s the nub of the problem; instead of actually engaging with my arguments, you trundle out the “have you stopped beating your wife yet” Islamophobia epithet. I’m reminded of having “nigger-lover” screamed in my face long years ago, when I was protesting against the awful apartheid regime in South Africa. Those interlocutors back then couldn’t summon up a coherent argument, either.

      “If you are indeed genuinely determined to free women of their being forced to wear other than what they want…”

      My argument is a great deal more nuanced than that; you really do need to go back and read carefully what I and others have said.

      I encourage Muslim women in NZ to abandon the hijab and the burqa, simply because they are symbols of the oppression of women, and here there is no societal impetus for them to wear either garment. I don’t assume that they’re being “forced to wear other than what they want” – whatever that means. Nor am I interested in forcing them to take off the hijab or the burqa; but as I said above, I’d certainly urge them to do so. When in Rome and all that….

      I do hope that you’ve read the links I put up above. They provide background to a very complex subject; much of what’s in them is uncomfortable and confronting for Westerners determined to believe the best of Islam. But you need that information, so as to give you more than a one-dimensional picture. Which is, it seems, what you now have.

      I’ve read your other post. It comes across as a bit of a pulpit piece, harking back to a time when we had values, courtesy and modesty: as if we don’t now? As I’ve remarked earlier, that’s a big leap to make, on the basis of not much evidence.

      You observe that “the burqa is hardly even a feature of our society.” You wouldn’t say that if you lived hereabouts. I have already pointed out that there have been Muslims in NZ for many years, yet before about 2001, we almost never saw even the hijab, let alone the burqa. No coincidence there: I’ve heard a number of interviews on the topic with NZ Muslims, and the motive for covering up, when they hadn’t previously done it, was political, pure and simple. There’s also been some research done into the topic at a NZ university; the results were pretty similar – it was about identity. Political, in other words.

      “…not a lot of positive awareness around the Syrian refugees etc…”
      In my view, the PM has been a craven coward on this issue. What we here should do is either severely limit our immigration programme, or cancel it outright (except for returning NZers) and replace those numbers with the desperate innocents flooding into Europe. After all, we had a hand in creating the problem, but even if we hadn’t, it would still be the right thing to do. As things stand, I’ll believe that Syrian refugees are coming here when I actually see them arrive. I suspect Dear Leader will just hope we’ve forgotten about it, and bring as few as he can decently get away with. And yes, they’re allowed to leave their veils at the border! Though many I’ve seen don’t wear them; which may of course be because they’re Coptic Christians.

      • Thanks Merrial.

        It is even moreso in a country like NZ where people decide what they want to wear or not wear. Your constant insistence for women to remove the veil suggests you may not take such freedoms as important. Casually asking for it to be abandoned because “when in Rome”?

        Which Rome are you in living Merrial?! Perhaps not the same one as the leaders of this country who established the diversity we have today. What do you think of Norman Kirk’s insistence that diversity even if disability is important amongst refugees?! Did you want to come with the “Rome-of-that-time” caveat? Because that is in stark contradiction to the spirit and letter of our history.

        One thing all this confirms is that you’ve never had a dialogue with let alone befriended a Muslim headscarf wearer — even in all your years of living where you say you see them often. A good way to do so is to centre it around something eg a festival, which can involve lovely food etc.

        You could get a flavour (pardon pun) of the identity of a Muslim woman — remembering that that will vary a lot: a Somali grandmother who has been through civil war in Mogadishu won’t be able to be pigeonholed in the same place as a young Syrian woman, or even a Syrian grandmother: everything is different.

        Hopefully you don’t think the same of cancer sufferers who wear it. Given the symbol you keep harping on about. For the same principle would apply: regardless of why they personally (individually) are wearing it, it is a symbol of oppression, and therefore simply should no exist!

        I hope that provides some food for thought.

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