‘Ban the burka’ says Scot­tish Mus­lim writer liv­ing un­der fatwa

The Herald on Sunday - - NEWS - BY PETER SWINDON

APROMINENT Scot­tish Mus­lim writer who has re­ceived death threats for re­peat­edly crit­i­cis­ing Is­lamic doc­trine wants women to be banned from wear­ing the “op­pres­sive” burka.

Paigham Mustafa, who claims to be liv­ing un­der a fatwa is­sued in 2001 by Glas­gow imams af­ter he pub­lished ar­ti­cles ques­tion­ing mosque teach­ings, made the con­tro­ver­sial com­ments af­ter Aus­tria be­came the lat­est Euro­pean coun­try to pro­hibit face veils in pub­lic.

From the be­gin­ning of this month Mus­lim women in Aus­tria who wear a veil in pub­lic which cov­ers the face will be fined around £130. Sim­i­lar re­stric­tions are in place in France, Bel­gium, Bul­garia and the Nether­lands. Last week, Que­bec be­came the first place in North Amer­ica to ban cit­i­zens from wear­ing face cov­er­ings in pub­lic places.

Mustafa in­sists burkas are “bizarre and cruel” and said wear­ing it is not an obli­ga­tion in the Ko­ran. Prom­i­nent Scots Mus­lim women have hit back say­ing it is up to women to de­cide how they dress. Mustafa said: “I sin­cerely hope that Bri­tain also in­tro­duces a ban sim­i­lar to that in Aus­tria. I know that many Mus­lim women here would ben­e­fit if the UK were to out­law this pe­cu­liar and op­pres­sive form of cloth­ing.

“Sadly, it has wrongly be­come a sym- bol of Is­lam. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. To hide the body in a tent-like gown and ob­scure fa­cial fea­tures is as bizarre as it is cruel, es­pe­cially when women are in­doc­tri­nated to falsely be­lieve it is God who de­crees such a shroud.

“The real rea­son has more to do with the fact that their men are in­se­cure and har­bour a deep dis­trust of their women.”

Robina Qureshi, di­rec­tor of refugee char­ity Pos­i­tive Ac­tion in Hous­ing, said: “What a woman wears is a woman’s choice, that’s her busi­ness. So long as that is the case, who is any­one to say how any­one else should or should not dress.”

Mustafa also drew crit­i­cism from Glas­gow coun­cil­lor So­ryia Sid­dique, who chooses to wear a hi­jab – a head­scarf worn by Mus­lim women which does not cover the face.

She said: “How peo­ple from any faith or none choose to dress is their own choice. Surely in the 21st cen­tury how women choose to dress is their in­clu­sive free­dom of choice? Men dic­tat­ing or de­bat­ing how women should, can or can­not dress can be viewed as op­pres­sive … let women make their own choices, af­ter all there is no com­pul­sion in re­li­gion, ac­cord­ing to Is­lam.”

Li­aquat Ali of the Mus­lim Coun­cil of Scot­land in­sisted women should be al­lowed to wear a veil “if they freely de­cide to do so”.

He said MCS recog­nises “there are dif­fer­ent the­o­log­i­cal ap­proaches … some con­sider this to be an es­sen­tial part of their faith, while oth­ers do not”.

Above in­set, Robina Qureshi, di­rec­tor of refugee char­ity Pos­i­tive Ac­tion in Hous­ing, has crit­i­cised Mustafa’s stance on burkas

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