British Press Bring Muslim Women’s Voices on Veil Debate

Published: 24 September

Country: UK

niqabAfter Jeremy Browne, Home Office Minister, called last week for a national debate on Muslim women wearing full-face veils in public, British newspapers brought the issue to their front page with a coverage that included diverse opinions of Muslim women.

In many occasions, journalists have tended to report on what politicians or columnists have to say on this issue, but in this case, the majority of British newspapers have interviewed and asked Muslim women what they think about banning the veil in the UK. They coincided to call for women wearing the niqab to be more vocal and express their views.Sahar al-Faifi, who wears the niqab explains at The Huffington Post, “I welcome debate and people asking me questions about it. But any national debate must include the voices of Muslim women.”

The New Statesman and The Independent also present the views of Muslim women that choose or not to wear a full-face veil to discover why. Tayabbah, an English student at King’s College London says that no one should take her right of wearing a niqab away. “I’m not harming anyone. It is a choice I made and a choice I have to deal with.”

While, Yasmil Alibhai, an expert journalist, has a different opinion, “these are unacceptable, iniquitous values, enforced violently by Taliban, Saudi and Iranian oppressors. They have no place in our country.”

the sun front pageThe majority of British newspapers has not only compiled the diverse opinions of Muslim women on this issue but has also brought other factors to take into account: how many Muslim women wear niqab in the UK? Does the country need to debate on this issue?

The Guardian reported that there are not official figures on how many women wear the veil at work. “The women who do wear the face veils are a tiny minority within a minority,” explains Salma Yaqoob, formerly a Birmingham city councilor.

Yaqoob adds that these debates “increase the vulnerability of Muslim women as a whole. Time and again, verbal and physical attacks on Muslim women increase when we have these so-called national debates.”

However, one of the newspapers in the country decided to take another path. The day after of Browne’s demand for a national debate, The Sun published its front page with a call to ban the veil. The tabloid decided to take a side instead of portraying the diversity of arguments on this debate.