Monday, March 31, 2008

Veil Row MkII?

An employment tribunal is underway that might spark a row similar to the Veil row resulting from Jack Straw's comments in 2006. Bushra Noah has taken Sarah Desrosiers to the tribunal after she was denied employment at a hair salon. Ms Noah insists on wearing a headscarf that covers all her hair and Ms Desrosiers felt that this was unsuitable for a trendy hair salon. She said:

The essence of my line of work is the display of hair. To me, it's absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist's hair. It has nothing to do with religion. It is just unfortunate that for her covering her hair symbolises her religion.

I now feel like I have been branded a racist. My accountant is Muslim. I have never discriminated against Muslims. My name is being dragged through the mud and I feel victimised.

Ms Noah claims that this amounts to "blatant discrimination".

As with the case of Aishah Azmi who was sacked because her full face veil prevented her from performing her job, it seems that this is no different. But just as that case caused much public comment it is entirely possible that this one will too. And extremists will no doubt point to this and try and claim that Britain is at war with Islam.

Last time around many people tried to distinguish between a face veil and a headscarf. But this case would undermine that argument and points to the very natural point that anyone can wear whatever they want, but choosing to wear certain clothes carries with it consequences. Just as if I refused to remove my trousers I could not get a job as a nude model, so too refusing to remove a headscarf seems a legitimate reason for not being employed as a hair stylist. As the old adage goes - never trust a skinny chef.