‘A growing number use the veil to provoke us’

“The burka and the full veil go unremarked in their countries of origin. But in Britain they sharply define one section of society and deliberately exclude the rest. And what were once masks imposed by men are increasingly adopted by some women as a silent gesture towards the host nation…. Meanwhile young men are being recruited across the country at secret meetings addressed by charismatic preachers of hate…. We are well down the road towards a divided nation where some predict Palestine-style conflict between one section and another.

“Too gloomy? A world statesman alarmed by Hezbollah’s sophisticated missile attacks on Israel from Lebanon thinks not. ‘In ten years, we may see rockets like these being fired from the suburbs of Paris’, he told me. And in London? In this context, the growing tendency to adopt the veil ceases to be a fuss about nothing. Islamic extremism thrives on grievances.

“For some women the veil is a genuine expression of faith. For most, it is a form of passive aggression. It is provocative. So, when someone stupidly – but predictably – reacts by ripping off a woman’s veil, a useful grievance is up and running. By the time anyone tries to restore order, that grievance is halfway round the Muslim world, with plenty more where it came from. And it feeds the case for those preaching jihad.”

Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun, 9 October 2006