Although I can't speak for the personal motivations, political, religious or otherwise of the twenty-odd-year-old unnamed Muslim woman who has insisted on wearing the niqab, a full length face veil, during her trial in a London court, where she has been accused of witness intimidation, the fact that the judge has been minded to allow her to wear the covering in a British court of law in the first place, albeit with certain conditions applied, should prove to us all, if proof were actually needed; that something has gone fundamentally wrong with our country.
According to some reports the young lady standing trial in London has a highly questionable religious background, which suggests that her initial demand to remain anonymous to the judge, the jury and the viewing public may well have resulted from her own malicious attempt to both politicise and damage the case that was being made against her. Following on from the case of the prospective Muslim student who accused a British university of discrimination, because of its already well established and widely known rule, of forbidding full face coverings on the grounds of protecting the student's personal security, all of us should be concerned that such apparently isolated incidents seem to be playing into a much wider and generally Islamic based agenda, one that has the potential to fatally undermine our largely secular and previously very tolerant society. The fact that in both cases, the court and the university have felt obliged to rescind their earlier judgements, in order to essentially accommodate the religious demands of these individuals, at a direct cost to every other non-Islamic suspect and student has inevitably established a precedent that this country yet prove to regret.
Of course the obvious argument should be; if you don't like the way our courts, or our universities operate, then don't live here! If you want Islamic courts, Islamic universities, or Islamic dress, then go and live, study, work and commit crimes in an Islamic country! Just how many times do people need telling? If they want to live in a dedicated Islamic state, then go and live somewhere else, because Britain is a largely secular country; and religious extremists of any flavour are not wanted, or indeed welcome.
Quite why Muslims, or any other religious faith should expect Britain and its people to adapt, alter, or amend our own long held traditions and customs, simply to accommodate these new foreign migrants is quite frankly beyond me! They add no cultural benefit or social premium to Britain's own way of living, which has existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years; and yet some would have us believe that Islam and its followers have something of value to offer our long standing traditional society, although exactly what remains a mystery. A virulent paternal society, where women are treated as second-class citizens or even chattels, the marriage of minors is encouraged, the education of females is discouraged, where honour killings are deemed to be acceptable, local religious and community leaders advocating the cold-blooded murder of perceived enemies and opponents of Islam, where Sharia Courts are employed to supplant the authority of Britain's established legal systems, where the sexual exploitation of young non-Islamic women and girls seems to be a commonplace occurrence; and a society where widespread fraud, intimidation and the ritual slaughter of sentient animals is the norm.
Increasingly, as with other nominal and highly vocal migrant groups, we have begun to see a significant number of Muslims playing the "victim" card, whether that's because of the clothes that they wear, the food that they eat, or the beliefs that they hold. Where it suits their purpose they will have nothing whatsoever to do with Western laws, culture, traditions or rules; and yet when an argument, or a legal judgement goes against them, they're quick enough to adopt the likes of the West's very own European Human Rights Act, in order to support their own generally backward and medieval style of thinking. But hey!, who ever said that Islam and its followers weren't capable of being first rate hypocrites, as and when it suits their purposes?
Like most people in Britain, I am largely indifferent to the question of Islam and its religious followers, live and let live at the end of the day! And as long as their faith, their religious practices; and some of their more odd traditional customs don't affect my life, then why should I care? However, many of us do start to care when some of our own longstanding legal and cultural precedents, or safeguards begin to be eroded by the malicious and entirely political misuse of our national laws and our regulations, ostensibly because a small number of supposed Islamic devotees believe that they are somehow beyond our laws, because of their faith. Surprisingly enough, we do not live in an Islamic Republic where the Koran, or a particular Imams word holds sway, we live in and abide by the rules of our secular society, where the rule of law has primacy, not the whim of two silly little girls who want to play "dress up" for their own highly questionable religious agendas.
Quite apart from the fact that religious vestments such as the Niqab and the Burqa scream "Go Away" to virtually any westerner who seems them being worn in the street, the sheer presence of such clothing items on the streets of Britain simply helps underpin the opinion that the wider Muslim community in this country has absolutely no intention of integrating into mainstream British society; and so they become and remain a Cuckoo in the nest of our daily lives. It is perhaps unsurprising then that resentment towards the Muslim community is on the rise, after all, what society would be prepared to accommodate, let alone accept a foreign host in their midst, especially one that is so antagonistic and brazen, as to display its hostility and indifference in such an obvious way.
It seems to me that elements of the Muslim community in Britain cannot have it both ways, either they are part of an integrated British society, or they are not. Although no-one is suggesting that traditionally modest Muslim women should walk around our cities half-dressed, as some of our young women choose to do, there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of perfectly respectable young women, be they Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, or whatever, who travel around our country each and everyday, without attracting a second look; and certainly without attracting the antipathy of their fellow citizens. If the Muslim community want to be part of Britain's rich cultural mix, then they must be prepared to compromise, after all, for the most part they are the newcomers, not us. For those few who are not prepared to compromise, or adapt to the British way of things, then please go and find another country that best suits your cultural and religious needs, only it isn't here!
As they have been brave in France, we need to be equally brave in this country; and to establish a set of cultural norms that the majority of us can live by and accept. In light of the two recent cases regarding the wearing of the Niqab and the Burqa, we too need to have a national conversation about whether or not such religious attire is entirely appropriate for our own country in the 21st century. Even a number of leading women's advocacy groups believe that the wearing of such garments represent a huge backward step for female rights in modern Britain, which the writer cannot wholly disagree with. Fundamentally though, it seems to me that the choice of wearing such an attire has little to do with personal modesty, or any supposed threat from a jealous Islamic spouse, but in reality has more to do with sending a message to our wider British society. For me personally, the underlying message of the Niqab and the Burqa is; "leave me alone, I want to live in Britain, but entirely on my own terms! I don't care about this country, or its people, I only care about me and mine. I have no interest in being integrated, but I'll let you know when and if I need something. Just go away!"