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.Tagged in: british muslims, opinion polls, veil
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