EVERY now and again Britain gets its thongs and Y-fronts in a collective twist over the thorny issue of what lies beneath the beguiling Muslim veil.
A confession first. I’ve occasionally, idly imagined a drop-dead gorgeous dusky maiden, sauntering sexily through Dewsbury market with nothing beneath her black sackcloth except a pair of stockings, benders and maybe a basque.
Before that kind of thinking earns me a fatwa, one glance downwards and the sight of a pair of £9.99 ‘comfortable’ shoes, as opposed to 4-inch strappy high heels, is enough to bring me back to my senses.
The fact is there’s nothing beneath those outfits that I’d want to cast eyes on. Hide away all you like sisters, because your Islamic ‘statement’ renders you invisible to me.
Burkhas and niqabs (face veil) are so commonplace among us nowadays that I hardly give them a second thought – it appears these women are clearly second-class ‘non-people’ even to themselves, so why should I give a hoot about them being subjugated by a medieval creed?
Where there is an issue about the niqab being worn, like this week in a Crown Court or more generally in a workplace or classroom, we just have to trust that British law and bureaucratic common sense will prevail.
That’s down to the people on the ground enforcing it, and at least Judge Peter Murphy didn’t capitulate altogether with the accused woman trying it on in his court. She will have to remove the veil when she gives evidence, although Judge Murphy worryingly made a number of other craven concessions.
The woman featuring in that case and accused of charges of intimidation is only a recent convert to Islam.
As such the affair smacks of yet another religious PR stunt, just like Aishah Azmi, the Dewsbury school assistant who thankfully came off second best when she challenged Kirklees over her right to wear the niqab while working with children.
Azmi was more concerned with striking a blow for her string-pulling mentors in Savile Town than she was about the danger of giving kiddies nightmares.
Sadly, shamefully even, Birmingham Metropolitan College meanwhile has meekly surrendered over the wearing of the niqab on campus, simply because the militant left launched an online petition, which it has an army of pet agitators ever ready to sign up to.
These big institutions really do need to grow a pair because none of this is about religion, it’s about pushing Britain onto the back foot.
THERE’S a reason why young Muslim women are under more pressure to wear the niqab in towns like Dewsbury and Batley than they are in Pakistan and India.
There’s no point to prove ‘back home’, no kuffar to poke in the chest at every opportunity.
I’m as comfortable with a woman wearing the niqab as I would be a KKK member wearing a pointy white hat.
If you want to look completely stupid and racist, fill yer boots. They’re both as bad – people haters – and at least the rest of us know where we stand with them.
So I trust these women are equally comfy with me looking down at them – but in that I’m no different from the men who control their third world culture. Mine is just a more erudite rationale.
Should the Government ban the veil altogether?
Not to my mind. All that would be is a return poke in the chest, and that won’t change anything.
Within Muslim communities there’s an ongoing struggle for the mullahs to control their flock, to bind their young people ever closer to the mosque – to indoctrinate them with Koran and niqab.
That’s why the old Batley hospital will become a super-sized Muslim girls’ school and why others will follow, because their elders need to exercise power through the hold that religion gives them.
If Islam is to fail in its mission to dominate this country – and every country in which it takes root – then the enlightenment and emancipation of its young people will be key.
Those young women have to choose to reject subjugation. Us trying to push them into it would be counter-productive.
Picking an unnecessary fight isn’t the way to win those hearts and minds, but we must also ensure our laws apply to one, as to all. And that’s the real problem.
TELEVISION’S honeymoon with heartthrob headteacher Jonny Mitchell and his ‘Thornhill Community Academy’ didn’t last long. By week two it was already back to the rough old ‘Thornhill High’ of yore.
I’d actually like to watch the programme alongside Mr Mitchell and his staff. I wonder if they wince as painfully as I did when seeing a limo set off for the prom, from outside the house I grew up in.
We were only ever likely to hare down Overthorpe Avenue on a homemade go-kart, a wooden crate with wheels off some old pram. Limo or Lamborghini? We’d never heard of them and do you know what? I don’t think we were any poorer for it.
Last Thursday illustrated the danger of fly-on-the-wall programmes like Educating Yorkshire, because I suspect the six or 12 months of events that were condensed into 50 minutes probably came as an ugly surprise to Mr Mitchell too.
He was suddenly made to look a bit weak, the nice guy unable to deal with teenage histrionics (and if ever a kid needed a slap...)
But that’s the thing – how much of the drama is just for the cameras? How much filming is truly surreptitious, how much stage-managed?
On one supposedly dramatic moment in the head’s office Mr Mitchell was wearing a shirt microphone. Not altogether off-the-cuff then.
It was always going to be difficult to sustain the feel-good debut of Educating Yorkshire’s first week, but we still know nothing about what makes the school tick beyond the psychological issues of hand-picked pupils. Every teacher in the country sees them on a daily basis.
In episode one Mr Mitchell referred to Thornhill being 50-50 white and Asian. On the evidence thus far I hope the ‘other half’ of the school community hasn’t entirely opted out, which is my current suspicion.
If the programme scored a 4/5 last week, it dropped to 1/5 this. I guess we’ll just have to see the journey through – but I’d rather go down Thornhill’s ‘Tops’ on a trolley than spend five minutes in a limo with some of the stars of last week.
THE line-up of potential Labour candidates for the next General Election makes interesting reading, if only because Shahid Malik’s pet, Karen Rowling (right), hasn’t yet declared an expected interest.
I’d be surprised if Malik was backing Cathy Scott who, judging by her literature, has two main qualifications – she’s a woman and she was born in Dewsbury. Wow. Hold the front page.
But then I really can’t see Malik backing one of the two Muslim women who’ve thrown their ‘hats’ in the ring – Manchester councillor Nasrin Ali has pinned her colours to Coun Abdul Patel (presumably she’s a fan of postal votes) and Naheed Arshad-Mather, who has spent 10 years being rejected for Labour MP candidacies.
That leaves Paula Sheriff from Pontefract and according to some, the front runner. Spoiled for choice, eh?
What we really, really need, is Bradford West MP and trouble-maker George Galloway to find a strong Respect candidate from Savile Town.
Then we could all happily sit back and watch the proverbial hit the fan!