The Veil: What Do Muslims Think?

John Rentoul

Niqab in England 2007 223x300 The Veil: What Do Muslims Think?No doubt we will get there before the day is out, but the one group from whom we have not heard in the Ban the Burqa debate is Muslim women who want to wear the veil (as opposed to Muslim women who don’t want them to).*

We know what view predominates in the whole population of Great Britain. A Pew survey and a YouGov poll in 2010 found 62 per cent and 67 per cent respectively favoured bans on face coverings. (In 2007, 84 per cent thought pupils should not be allowed to wear veils at school.)

It is harder to gauge the views of British Muslims themselves because there have been few polls of them and I cannot find one that asked this question. There was one poll carried out by Populus for Policy Exchange in 2006-07, however, which is interesting.

It found (p41) that 53 per cent of Muslims “prefer that Muslim women choose to wear the veil”, with 28 per cent preferring that they choose not to and 19 per cent saying don’t know or refusing to answer.

The survey found there was “no significant difference between men and women on this issue”, but that young people were more likely to favour the veil. Among 16-24-year-olds, 74 per cent preferred the veil, whereas among the 55+ age group support was only 28 per cent.

The discussion in the Policy Exchange paper, on page 42, is interesting, explaining why young women might choose to wear a veil even though their mothers did not, although we have to infer why Muslim young men might share their preference.

It does not invalidate Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s view that women who choose the veil are “reactionary”, “whether they know it or not”, but it is always better to start the debate knowing what other people think.

*Update: indeed, Jessica Elgot at Huffington Post has spoken to two women who do wear the veil.

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  • Hill244

    I wore mine in Turkey. Tulum = bagpipes as in “Where are your tulum?” They react badly to heat.

  • Rumplestiltskin

    It was probably ordered for them to wear it by their husbands.
    I.E;They don’t like anyone else to see their wives.
    The trouble with the court case was that she could have been anybody except the person she was supposed to be?
    Could even had been a bloke,or somebody bought in to do her porridge?

  • Zytigon

    The Burka is symbolic of keeping people in the dark. It appears that many people in the world are subjected to an Islamic oligarchy. It is a feature of tribal fundamentalism to restrict information to that segment that supports the creed.

    Christian ministers have also been guilty, in many instances, of not telling their congregation about the whole history of Bible scholarship, especially not the history of Higher criticism, maybe out of fear of rocking the boat and losing their job. However in fact it makes the Bible more interesting to read Albert Schweitzer & David Strauss ( whose book, ” Life of Jesus critically examined ” was translated by George Eliot. )

    What is freedom ? I think people are most free when they have surveyed most of the main points of view on the topic. It is generally a helpful practice to think through the main pros and cons, reasons for and against on each matter. It helps to look at the wider historical context, to read through the history of ideas on the subject, to go to the library and see the debate in its widest form & to ask ” Are there other books / opinions which I am not aware of ? ” Schools need to have a good religious education section that helps achieve this. It also needs to show the evidence for evolution & the evolution of culture.

    Everyone should read the Bible, Koran and book of Mormon to compare them. It will readily be seen that the Koran, which was written over 500 years after the New Testament, is just a jumbled summary of the Bible stories, with some revisions.

    It would help to study the history of religion and compare the Abrahamic religions to the Egyptian, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian religions which existed before even most of the Old Testament writings. Also interesting to study the pre Islamic religions of the Arabic Peninsula – where Allah was just one name from a pantheon of gods.

    I recommend the books of Robert M. Price and his website Biblegeek. Also books by John Loftus and his website debunkingchristianity. Also Richard Dawkins book, ” The god delusion “. Also the Christian premier radio show, ” Unbelievable ? ” hosted by Justin Brierley. Also Bertrand Russell, ” History of western religion ”

    Robert M. Price in his book , ” The reason driven life ” makes the point that we can cherry pick the best ideas from each religion. It is also a worthwhile exercise to critique points of disagreement.

    With any book you read there will be points in it you agree with and points you disagree with and points that you are not sure about.

  • cloakanddagger


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