Islamophobia rears its ugly head as a woman wearing the niqab is turned away from her son's parents evening over 'security concerns'.
Maroon Rafique was told by college staff that she could not come to the parents evening unless she removed her niqab. The 40-year-old from Manchester has visited the college previously without concern; on this occasion, however, she was stopped in the lobby. The College staff argued that her face veil was a security risk. She was then forced to ring her husband who attended for her.
The media has jumped on this story; but rather than see Maroon Rafique as the victim, the debate has yet again moved to Muslims and integration. No one seems to ask the real question: how can a few inches of cloth over someone’s face be a threat to British society?
If a woman wishes to wear a niqab then it is her choice to do so. Educational institutions are supposed to be bastions of free speech, diversity and acceptance. They should not be turning away parents on the basis of how they chose to dress.
Unfortunately, actions like these have increased hugely since the UK went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. These wars are directly linked to the increase of racism and Islamaphobia in this country. You cannot kill Muslims abroad whilst not attacking Muslims at home, whether it is in the form of targeting women for a few inches of cloth or expecting Muslims to adhere to an imaginary notion of Britishness invented by the elite.
What's clear to many is that talk of ‘security’ and ‘Britishness’ is a veneer for xenophobia and scapegoating. At a time of government cuts and recession politicians turn on the most vulnerable in society to distract people from the real issues.
Maroon has defended herself admirably; she phoned in live to the BBC Asian Network and was articulate and composed, unlike the bigoted voices that opposed her. Most of all it is clear that she is a mother that cares about her son’s education. The college have said that they are looking into the concerns raised by Maroon, but given that she is yet to receive an apology it it does not excuse the degrading manner in which they treated her.
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