Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Face Veil Controversy: An “Obscene Outfit” to Jean Luc Mélenchon but not to Socialist Worker.

with 14 comments

“Obscene Outfit” says Mélenchon.

YASMIN ALIBHAI BROWN writes in the Independent,

Birmingham Metropolitan College was similarly cowed and had to reverse a directive forbidding students from covering their faces. One hooded lady crowdsourced a protest against the college. Some overexcited student union members, Muslim objectors and online petitioners have forced a U-turn. Shabana Mahmood, MP for Ladywood, Birmingham, welcomed the capitulation. Happy days. Muslim women can now to go to courts and college in shrouds.

That all-covering gown, that headscarf, that face mask – all affirm and reinforce the belief that women are a hazard to men and society. These are unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors. They have no place in our country.

In this passionate and well argued piece Alibhai Brown continues,

None of our sacred texts command us to cover our faces. Some branches of Islam do not even require head coverings. These are manmade injunctions followed by unquestioning women. We are directed always to accept the rules of the countries we live in and their institutions, as long as they are reasonable. For security, justice, travel, education and health identification is vital. Why should these women be exempt? We Muslims are already unfairly thought of as the enemy within. Niqabs make us appear more alien, more dangerous and suspicious. If it is a provocation for Ku Klux Klan to cover up so they can’t be recognised, it is for Muslims too.

This is a struggle between the light of the faith and dark forces here and also in Islamic countries. The clothes symbolize an attempted takeover of the religion just when believers are looking for liberty, autonomy, democracy and gender equality. Malala Yousafzai doesn’t hide her determined face. Nor do our female Muslim MPs and peers or civil rights lawyers.

So why do we get this gang announcing in Socialist Worker, the following,

Students celebrate beating Birmingham college niqab ban

The successful campaign in Birmingham should serve as a warning to college bosses everywhere – students will not allow their Muslim friends to be scapegoated.

‘Islamophobia’ Watch has joined the fray.

Bob Pitt is, amongst his usual forth, particularly exercised over a Tory MP’s Twitter comments,

Pitt and the SWP would have heart attacks if they were on the French left.

This is what Jean Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Front de gauche, and their presidential candidate, said on the Face veil (during the 2010 debate on French laws in 2010).

Full veil: Mélenchon “for a general ban”


The chairman of the Left Party (PG), Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for a total ban of the full veil in the Figaro.

According to him, the restriction prohibiting the wearing of the full veil in public services alone is “an incredible cowardice.”

He added that the law “must be of universal application.”

In more detail Jean Luc Mélenchon set out his position (2010) on his Blog.

Je parle du voile intégral

Why is he wearing the full veil degrading for women? Firstly, because it is obscene. It reduces the wearer to the status of sexual potential prey. As it is not proposed to blind men, it is designed to hide the object of desire from  natural desires of  all those watching. It’s worth noting how it is insulting to men who are deemed as being that are predatory and obsessed. In any case, the fully veiled woman bears a humiliating statement of  that she has the status of property of another.  is attached to the veiled woman.

A human being can not be the property of another. This is contrary to the human rights principle, that all are born free and equal in rights.

Mélenchon wanted a  law that would not just ban the full face veil in public places but for legislation to guarantee ” it would give “ l’obligation de mixité des lieux publics et services publics.” – the obligation to have women and men together in all public places and services. That is, to refuse all demands for single sex treatment.

Mélenchon has done far more defending French Muslims and “métsisage’ (cultural mixing) than the likes of the British Islamophiles.d.

What passes for defending Muslim women’s rights for the SWP and Bob Pitt, is deeply misguided.

Some liberal-minded people may think that people can do what they like (Harry’s Place), a way of presenting the issue is profoundly misleading terms.

The face veil is there to maintain the wearer’s  ‘purity’ and to treat others as ‘unclean’ because they do not have the modest dress that their interpretation  of a religion demands.

This is to accept the installation of a group of people with what are close to  a racist form of religious intolerance inside public institutions.

This is not about ‘choice’ but a right to demand the restriction of choice.

Let us be clear: there is no right to be oppressed.

The face veil  is dramatically opposed to the progressive goal of “métsisage’ (cultural mixing).

An important  place where there should be taking place, in education, has become  a battle field, pitting progressives against those from the extreme-right and the Islamists, who oppose this.

The full face veil is as Yasmin Alibhai Brown says, a reflection of “unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors.”


14 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Indeed the state should control every aspect of life!!! Some socialist paradise.

    Geoff Barr

    September 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

  2. If a state institutions are concerned (colleges) what other than the state, and those democratically elected to control them, can decide how they are run?

    Andrew Coates

    September 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm

  3. The old elitist socialism says that we capture the state (or set up another state) and control behaviour. Socialism from below opposes the state. The idea of the government “clothing inspector” arresting people for wearing the wrong things appalls me. I spent years teaching and always tried to reduce the control of the state over individual behaviour.

    Geoff Barr

    September 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  4. So you let your students do exactly what they wanted, all the time, any time……

    Andrew Coates

    September 16, 2013 at 12:54 pm

  5. I was never the state. Anyways I see your quotation of a Tory MP who helped wreck the NHS and now wants to ell people how to dress.

    Socialists are there to help humanity free itself from capital not to help capital dictate. I understand that Jack Straw said that he was fearful of women in face veils. The point of all this about a tiny number of women is to combine demonising them with maintaining hostility to Muslims. Divide and rule is an important strategy.

    Geoff Barr

    September 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm

  6. here in France a law was passed to ban the niqab in public places. It was a hypocritical law, because it was written in terms of “covering one’s face in public” for any reason, whereas everyone knew it was about muslim women wearing niqabs, and no one else except muslim women have been bothered by police. It gave power to policemen who are often racist, and there have been several cases of police being brutal with women who wear the niqab, using this law as an excuse. The law in fact has served to accentuate islamophobia, and one of the results is that therehave been several physical attacks on muslim women who wear headscarves. One was kicked around till she lost the baby she was carrying. The aim of the law was not to solve a public order problem, or indeed any problem. There are a few hundred women who wore the niqab in France, no more. It is the first time in history a special law was made for so few people. The real reason was elsewhere. Publicly shouting out that muslims are a big problem in this country is a way of reassuring racists and getting their votes. IT wa spossible to do this in France because islamophobia is quite common even onthe left and the far left. Now they are talking about laws to stop women who wear headscarves from being childminders even in their own homes.

    John Mullen

    September 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

  7. I suppose John Mullen you are referring to the Trappes riot, “Two nights of rioting in the Paris suburb of Trappes have left dozens of cars destroyed, at least 10 arrests and a 14-year-old injured, after police carried out an identity check on a Muslim woman in a full-face veil”.

    Perhaps people may be interested in this (le Monde),

    Trappes : radiographie d’une émeute.

    The Minister of the Interior said,

    “On dit s’être plutôt retrouvé face à un groupe de personnes toutes fichées pour leur “salafisme déclaré”

    They found themselves in face with Salafists.


    The minority on the French left who make excuses for Salafists, and the larger group in the UK who do so, act on the basis of their own colonialist ideology.

    They have adopted the practice of British imperialism: ruling through letting their subjects’ lives be controlled through their own religious ‘personal law’.

    Andrew Coates

    September 16, 2013 at 4:27 pm

  8. There was an interview on the news this afternoon with Anne Marie waters of the NSS and a vieled woman whose name I forget. The thing that struck me was the immediate communication barrier that wearing a veil creates. I found it hard to take her seriously as a result. Her claim that a veil defended her “modesty” was not only astonishing but I would think a distortion of what she should practice from even a Koranic point of view.

    The Koran states (roughly) that “only the wives of Mohammed should be fully covered” and other women should dress “modestly”. A veil is far from “modest” and is actually extreme by any definition.

    The problem as Ms Waters pointed out was that many (particularly young) women don’t have any choice and there is pressure for them to wear them, which was denied by the Muslim woman who claimed not to know of such cases. That I really couldn’t believe and would like to have seen her expression when she said it to see if she was being honest. And that brings me to the problem of communication barriers. It automatically results in a lack of trust.

    Anyway the National Secular Society is thinking of a legal challenge:


    Howard Fuller

    September 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm

  9. I think that college authorities, as here, and the state in general have no right to tell people what they should or should not wear, and that, as in this case, a Muslim woman can wear a niqab if she pleases to do so. However, I would not ‘celebrate’ the overturning of the college decision on the grounds that I do not feel that the rise of hard-line religious identities (of any sort) and all that goes with it is anything to celebrate. I defend the right of a woman of a Muslim background not to wear a niqab (or other particularist garb) if she chooses not to do so against the desires of family members, mullahs or ‘community leaders’.

    Dr Paul

    September 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm

  10. “…a Muslim woman can wear a niqab if she pleases to do so. However, I would not ‘celebrate’ the overturning of the college decision on the grounds that I do not feel that the rise of hard-line religious identities (of any sort) and all that goes with it is anything to celebrate.”

    Make your mind up for once, Dr Paul. The issues are really quite clear, you know.

    Jim Denham

    September 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

  11. There is, Jim, a difference between accepting something, that is, taking the position that someone has the right to do something, and celebrating the same thing, that is, thinking that what that person is doing is a good thing and that we ought to be praising it.

    Hence, it is, I believe, the right of a Muslim woman to wear a niqab if she so chooses. I do not celebrate it, as I feel that it is showing that she is a believer in an archaic, obscurantist form of a religion; I do not celebrate the fact that quite a few young people are adopting fundamentalist forms of Islam (and other religions too) — I would rather they addressed today’s problems by becoming Marxists — but I do not deny their right to believe in it and live by its tenets.

    Having said that, I also believe that I have the right to defend people who are affected detrimentally by people practising that belief; hence, for example, I will defend the right of a woman of a Muslim family who decides that she does not wish to wear a niqab, or of the right of a person to reject his or her religious ‘community’ without suffering any obloquy or harm from believers.

    That, I think, is quite clear.

    Dr Paul

    September 16, 2013 at 11:30 pm

  12. http://socialistunity.com/fascism-midst-courtesy-sun/
    Be careful of the company you keep

    Mike Phipps

    September 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

  13. Indeed Mike, no doubt you will be out campaigning for Socialist Unity candidate Andy Newman,

    Andrew Coates

    September 17, 2013 at 10:47 am

  14. […] Ipswich Bolshevik Blogger, Andy Coates wrote a good piece about it here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: