Monday, October 16, 2006

Crosses, Niqabs and the MCB

There are two stories ongoing at the moment that seem to have similarities. A teaching assistant was suspended because she refused to remove her veil during lessons, and a BA employee was forced to take unpaid leave because she refused to hide the cross she wore around her neck.

Ostensibly the same there is in fact a huge difference. The teacher was unable to do her job because of the veil she wore; even the children were complaining. The BA employee is as capable of carrying out her job as anyone else.

This brings me to the MCB and our good friend Inayat Bunglawala. He decided to bring the MCB into the row over the cross. The reason is evident: "It is an expression of private religious belief and we do respect that in the same way that we respect the right of a Muslim women [sic] to wear the Niqab". (The Guardian)

This is entirely in accord with his comments about the teacher: "We uphold the right for freedom of speech and it is this same freedom which society holds which we also hold for the right to wear the Niqab." (The Herald)

This is why the Muslim community is under such pressure; its representatives continue to make life hard for them. The discussion of the BA cross policy has nothing whatever to do with the MCB. Yet they try and use this to score a political point. They are effectively crying that they are the victims of the BA policy as much as anyone else; even as the whole of Britain knows that no such policy would ban a Muslim headscarf.