In connection with recent media reports that the misguided father of a young pupil in Buckinghamshire is seeking a judicial review so that his daughter can wear the face veil (niqab) in school, [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=430705&in_page_id=1770], MECO is on record to robustly resist this non-Islamic imposition upon any British state-funded institution. We are committed to offering the school’s principal and staff our full and unequivocal support in banning all face-masks at school. We trust any move to implement this kind of ethnic fringe obcession will be resisted, as it has no foundation within the transcendent sources of Islamic law.
Since the school’s dress code already gives Muslim girls the option to wear the headscarf (hijab), there is no need for full-face covering. The niqab, as all Muslims should know, is a cultural class-based pre-Islamic custom and is a un-Qur’anic innovation. Unfortunately, this non-Qur’anic garment is witnessing a contemporary resurgence due to the potency of Saudi petro-dollars, which is influencing fanatical Wahhabi theology and its Indo-Pakistani variants here and abroad. However, for Muslims to claim that it is a religious requirement for women (and girls) to conceal their faces while in public is both incorrect and disingenuous, as there is no scriptural authority at all for this chauvinistic perspective.
As a forward-looking British Muslim organisation, MECO urges all school authorities to combat this insidious foreign-inspired drive for Muslim exceptionalism in the UK. Together with the vast bulk of sensible Muslims, the rest of British society should unite with us to overcome the theological, cultural and intellectual dimensions of this pernicious campaign to instill religious extremism in Britain. If successful, such a negative development will only serve to entrench a dangerous precedent and exacerbate relations further between Muslims and non-Muslims. If this young girl alone is allowed to flaunt basic school rules by donning the niqab, she will benefit from a special dispensation, a Muslim exceptionalism that will only damage community relations and permit a reactionary Saudi theology to flourish in Britain.
Therefore, it is a political and social imperative that schools thwart any potential court challenge to their valid regulations. With the encouragement of progressive Muslims, all like-minded people can work together to defeat this nasty tendency to legitimise primitive un-Islamic full face-masks in Britain’s state schools (as well as in its public life).
MECO supports all educational establishments resisting this threat to their institutional autonomy. MECO will contribute to a legal fighting fund and launch a nationwide initiative so that other moderate British Muslims can also donate to this landmark judicial battle. UK Muslims need to do more to integrate fully into British society, instead of their predilection to divorce themselves from the mainstream by leading segregationist lives.
MECO can be contacted by telephone on 01865 766032, by fax on 01865 742612 or by e-mail to email@example.com
This MECO Media Statement was issued on the 24th January 2007