Muslim Journalist Tells Shelagh Fogarty: The Niqab "Is Foundationally Anti-Democratic"
10 August 2018, 16:43 | Updated: 10 August 2018, 16:49
A Muslim physician and journalist has told Shelagh Fogarty that wearing the Niqab is "much more than personal oppression" and is "a demonstration of separatism."
After speaking to Sahar Al-Faifi, a Niqab wearer who wears the garment as an "act of devotion to god," Shelagh Fogarty was keen to hear from a Muslim on the other side of the debate.
The discussion was sparked by Boris Johnson's comparison of women in face-covering veils to “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.
Shelagh spoke to Qanta Ahmed, a physician, journalist and author who believes wearing the Niqab is oppressive.
Ms Ahmed said: "I think it's much more than personal oppression. Obviously covering the face and erasing womanhood from the public space has been a feature of some of the most austere manifestations and expressions of fundamentalist Islam.
"The entire point of a woman covering her face in modern Western secular society is a rejection of Secularism and an assertion that this is the authentic, pure Islam and that the rest of us, Muslims like me, are impure, inauthentic and not true Muslims."
She continued: "The Niqab in Western society is a demonstration of separatism, a demonstration of 'I am Other,' I am not integrated,' in the wider British society... It has a symbolism that speaks to Islamism. It is truly antithetical to true islam."
Shelagh responded to Ms Ahmed's comments by asking: "So if I defend her [Sahar Al-Faifl] right to wear it, I'm missing something am I?"
Amed replied: "You are defending her right to wear a political symbol. You are not defending her religious freedom. And that's what Boris Johnson was doing."
"It [the Niqab] doesn't contribute to the unity of British Society.... it is foundationally anti-democratic. But Britain has the right to choose it."
Watch the fiery exchange in full above.