Rod Liddle on hijab

There is some of the usual “Roddle Twaddle” in the Spectator this week, in which he criticises the government for trying to ban Omar Bakri from “spew[ing] out his rubbish” rather than rebutting it “intellectually, from every side”. He concludes:

There is more territory to be gained in this ideological war by ensuring that Muslim schoolchildren receive a secular education and banishing the hijab than by banging up some publicity-seeking cleric because he appears, from time to time, a little inflammatory.

There can be only one result of banning the hijab, of course, which is the withdrawal of thousands of girls from schools up and down the country - usually at the girls’ own initiative and sometimes (as with the wearing of the hijab itself) against the wishes of their parents. There is a strong likelihood of many of them being home-educated - which from this writer’s point of view is no bad thing if it’s done properly, as a lot of these schools are not very good anyway, but it hardly fits in with the current orthodoxy of “integration”. Unless a ban on that is on the agenda as well.

This reminded me of a letter in yesterday’s Independent from Barry James, the Honourary Consul at the Tunisian Consulate in Aldershot in Hampshire. I mean, why does the Tunisian state need a consulate in a small Hampshire barracks town? Aldershot is part of a small conurbation stretching about 12 miles from Farnham (and its considerably larger southern suburbs) up through Aldershot to Farnborough, Camberley and Frimley, but how many diplomatic institutions are there in that conurbation? Or are the Tunisians just too cheap to get a property in London?

Anyway, the letter boasts about how “full emancipation for women, including the banning of the hijab, dates back as far as 1956 in Tunisia”, how polygamy is banned and how women enjoy freedoms such as “top political and professional posts”. The letter does not mention how Bourguiba remained in power for several decades and how his successor (who had to barge him aside by having him declared unfit for office) has similarly managed to keep his opponents down. The country is, in fact, one of the last remaining of the “one-party democracy” dictatorships which were so common in Africa in the late part of the last century.

It speaks volumes that Tunisia achieved its empty equalities only by exclusion, including that of religious women. Whatever Liddle hopes to achieve by “banishing the hijab”, the only people who won’t benefit are women who want to follow Islam.

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