Muslims turned on Salman Rushdie today for saying that veils “suck”. It came after the author stoked up the debate started by Jack Straw when the Commons leader said he asked constituents to remove their veils which he saw as a barrier to race relations.
Rushdie said: “He wasn’t doing anything compulsory. He was expressing an important opinion, which is that veils suck, which they do. I think the veil is a way of taking power away from women.”
Rushdie’s comments came in an interview with Radio 4’s Today programme about his new joint exhibition with sculptor Anish Kapoor.
Rushdie said: “Speaking as somebody with three sisters and a very largely female Muslim family, there’s not a single woman I know in my family or in their friends who would have accepted wearing the veil. I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women, so in that sense I’m completely on [Straw’s] side.”
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain who has clashed with the author over the Satanic Verses, said Rushdie had “no credibility whatsoever” within the Muslim community. “You can only have a debate with open minds, not closed minds. Islamophobes are currently doing all they can to attack Islam and it doesn’t surprise me if he is now jumping on the bandwagon,” he said.
Unaiza Malik, spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “I think he must be doing this purely for publicity to promote his latest venture.”
Ken Livingstone said he was “amazed at the insensitivity” of Mr Straw’s request to his Muslim constituents. He said:
“Bearing in mind this person has come to you to ask for something, the power imbalance in that relationship means it’s completely unacceptable behaviour on Jack Straw’s part. I’m amazed by his insensitivity. That a powerful man can say to a completely powerless woman, I think you should take your veil off, I think is completely and utterly wrong and insensitive.”
Evening Standard, 10 October 2006
“Give him credit for anti-dhimmitude”, Robert Spencer comments. Dhimmi Watch, 10 October 2006