Racism is the real obstacle we face – Salma Yaqoob

Salma speaking“This week I’ve been told that women like myself are submissive, oppressed creatures who need rescuing by white, male politicians. But at the same time, I’ve been told that women like myself frighten white, male politicians and that we are a threat to social cohesion in this country.

“Frankly I’m getting fed up with other people’s obsessions being projected on people like me.

“If the government wants to tackle barriers to integration, how about tackling some of the real obstacles that we encounter? And, in this country, the widespread imposition of Islamic dress is not one of them – by any stretch of the imagination. In fact post 9/11, the most prevalent pressure on Muslim women is to NOT wear Islamic dress, out of fear for their personal safety.

“That’s not to say that cultural and patriarchal pressures do not exist in the Muslim community. They do – and many of us are actively engaged in challenging them. I defend the right of women to choose, for themselves, to wear the niqab or hijab. But I equally defend the right of women to choose not to wear particular forms of dress, whether it’s in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran or Britain.”

Salma Yaqoob in Socialist Worker, 21 October 2006