I came across the following blog entry a week ago – and it has given me a lot of food for thought
Islam, Freedom, Women, Norway And The Veil – Islam And The West – Opinions Of A Kashmiri Nomad:
Having set the stage of this post, I now wish to introduce an article from the Al-Jazeera English website. It narrates that the Islamic veil that covers the face will be banned from schools in the Norwegian capital Oslo. The ban will begin after the current summer holidays. Oslo will join the ranks of countries like France that have also banned the Islamic veil from their schools.While reading this report I was struck by the fact that if the west promotes pluralistic, mutli-cultural societies how can it then ban the veil from schools? Is it not a fundamental right of a human being to practice his/her religion without hindrance? How can the west ban the Islamic veil while in the same breath defending the right of some to produce and distribute pornography? The pornographer uses his right to freedom of expression while the Muslim female is banned from her right to wear a veil and to practice her freedom of religion.
IMHO one of the fundamental problems for countries like Norway is that we do not associate the way you dress with your religion – i.e. Norwegians see religion as something you do – not something you wear.
To explain a bit more – in Norway knives are a part of our national dress, and really large knives are part of the national and daily working outfit of Lapps in the northern part of Norway (when they work with reindeer – for some very good reasons). Should we allow every Norwegian to wear knives when going to school, entering a plane and other public places? (ok ok – I know we do this a lot more in Norway that in other countries, but that’s not the point)
I do think both parties need to show flexibility here – and adjust. I really see why the veil should not be worn when in a society that reacts against it – after all you do have to adapt to other people and their feelings/beliefs all the time, that’s just a fact of life.
Non-verbal communication is a very big part of all life, and the veil makes it very, very difficult. Get over it – but please – you should be allowed to practice your religion in your religious places and homes. Just do not expect everyone to change their definitions of religion to fit in with your definition, especially when you live in a foreign society.
I am a foreigner in the UK – and I have had to adopt, something I have not found difficult at all!