Jack Straw should be praised for lifting the veil on a taboo

“Jack Straw was right to make the simple human point that it is rather hard to conduct a conversation with someone wearing the full veil. He was also right to make the further point that the full veil does not help relations between different communities.

“He didn’t quite say that the veil has no place in a liberal secular society, but if that was his intention I agree with it. This is not to persecute Muslims for their beliefs or deny them rights: it is simply to say that the veil, like it or not, has become increasingly regarded as a symbol of separatist aspiration and of female subservience. Many wear it voluntarily, but it does not stop this being a symbol of women’s oppression which stretches back to the times of classical Greece.

Henry Porter in the Observer, 8 October 2006