Storm Erupts in Reaction to the Care-Giver Veil Case: Sparks fly between the League and Pd (Democratic Party)

Arese – Tatiana Rotar was fired because she wore a headscarf. Starting October 1 the legal dispute will likely bring together Tatiana Rotar, the 26 year old Ukrainian domestic helper who converted to Islam two months ago and her former employers. The case has divided the town of Varese.

 

Among the two sides are those who understand the family’s choice to fired Rotar (the young woman claims she was fired for her choice to wear the veil) and those who condemn the choice.

 

“There is a law that prohibits dismissal for religious reasons” says Sandy Cane, mayor of Viggiù, a black American and a party member of the Northern League “But you have to see how her religious choice would affect her work. And we need to see where this choice comes from. It was converted after meeting her Muslim boyfriend. I already take that as a sign of weakness. Many could presume that this woman was greatly influenced. She did after all, convert after meeting her Muslim boyfriend.“

 

Cane does not think this is racist: “I do not think that the dismissal after she wore the veil comes from racism. I believe comes from an understandable concern. As Islam today is not associated with peaceful images or scenarios.”

 

This is a Civil Rights issue says Stefano El- fennèe a Moroccan Muslim and spokesman for the Pd Luvinate. “It is unfair and I think that this girl will be shown this by our judicial system” he says “the system must evaluate the work of a person, not his/her religious faith. In this case there is not an objective reason for her dismissal rather it is subjective. Does a nun fulfill her mission any less because she wears a veil? And again, is it better to have a caregiver who is beautiful and wears a short skirt but treats her patients terribly or a caregiver with the veil that instead takes good care of persons in her charge?”

‘Why it is so important for us to wear the veil’

Amongst the 1.4 million Muslim women in Britain, Shalina Litt is one of a tiny minority who choose to cover their face entirely. This choice has come under intense scrutiny over the last few days, after a judge ruled that a 22-year-old woman from Hackney, East London, could not wear the full veil while being cross-examined in court. So when Birmingham community worker Shalina steps out in her niqab, she has come to expect the worst. “It gets a really bad reaction,” the 34 year-old mother of two says. “I’ve had glass kicked at me and when you drive people are extra aggressive. They will roll down their window to shout at you and at times like this when hatred of covered-up women becomes most heated you find that people are very aggressive,”

 

Unlike some who wear the niqab, Shalina does not feel obliged to keep it on at all non-family occasions. She explains: “Nobody is forcing me to do it and I can lift it up at any time. When I see my elderly white neighbour, I make sure I lift it up and show her my face. I actually find it cooler to wear on a hot day, but if it’s uncomfortable or I’ve got a cold and I’m bunged up, I’m not going to wear it. It’s a religious choice. Shalina, who has two young children, says she would be happy for her daughter to wear a veil, but that it would be her choice. “It’s a very liberating and empowering experience. I’m not oppressed by ageism, sexism or racism because nobody can see.”

 

Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, who converted to Islam in 1995, believes the niqab is unnecessary but worries that there has been an overreaction to it. “It’s pathetic that some people are presenting this as a national issue”, she said. “This is a few thousand women and we need to keep that in perspective.

 

Rabiha Hannan, co-editor of Islam and the Veil, a book which examines Muslim women’s use of face and hair covering, believes that people’s fears about those wearing niqabs and burqas need to be addressed.

Boris Johnson: forcing children to wear burka to school is against country’s values of liberty

The Mayor of London said the burka, or full Islamic veil which leaves only a mesh for the eyes cannot be described as a school uniform. He was speaking after it emerged a number of secondary schools have forced children as young as 11 to wear the full covering when outside school.

 

The Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, east London, stipulates that girls must wear a full burkha and a black coat when outside school. Girls at the Jamea Al Kauthar school in Lancaster are required to cover their faces when outside the school and wear a jilbab, or long flowing black gown that covers the head and body but leaves the face exposed, when inside. The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School in Southall, West London, requires girls to wear the jilbab when travelling to lessons.  All three are independent fee-paying schools. There had been plans to turn Madani girls’ school into a state-funded Muslim school.

 

Parliament said this week it backed the rights of schools to set and enforce their own uniform policies but Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think it can be classed as any kind of uniform. I’m totally against any kind of compulsion in this matter. If a school is forcing children to wear the veil, that in my view is completely wrong, adding: “That is against my principles and it’s against the principles of liberty that London should stand for.”

Wearing niqab should be woman’s choice, says Theresa May

The Government should not tell women what to wear, the Home Secretary has said amid ongoing debate over the use of full-face veils. Theresa May said it is for women to “make a choice” about what clothes they wear, including veils, although there will be some circumstances when it will be necessary to ask for them to be removed.

 

The ruling followed calls by Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne for a national debate on whether the state should step in to prevent young women having the veil imposed upon them.

 

Asked if parliament needs to issue formal guidance to courts and schools on whether women should be allowed to wear a veil, the Home Secretary told Sky News: “I start from the position that I don’t think Government should tell people, I don’t think the Government should tell women, what they should be wearing.

 

“I think it’s for women to make a choice about what clothes they wish to wear, if they wish to wear a veil that is for a woman to make a choice.” There will be some circumstances in which it’s right for public bodies, for example at the border, at airport security, to say there is a practical necessity for asking somebody to remove a veil. “I think it’s for public bodies like the Border Force officials, it’s for schools and colleges, and others like the judiciary, as we’ve recently seen, to make a judgment in relation to those cases as to whether it’s necessary to ask somebody to remove the veil.

 

“But in general women should be free to decide what to wear for themselves.”

Should Muslim veils be lifted in schools?

Photo by Peter Stitger for Capsters.com
Photo by Peter Stitger for Capsters.com

To some, it can seem intimidating. To others, it is outdated and oppressive. Yet to those whose faces are shrouded beneath it, it can be a liberator, symbolising religious modesty in an increasingly secular West. To others still, it is nothing more than a piece of cloth. The future of the veil, Liberal Democrat minister Jeremy Browne told this newspaper, must be urgently reconsidered. “There is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil. We should be very cautious about imposing religious conformity on a society which has always valued freedom of expression.”

 

The matter is garnering political momentum. Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, has proposed a private member’s Bill that would make it an offence for a person to wear “a garment or other object” intended to obscure their face. Backing his proposal is Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes. Writing in this newspaper yesterday, she described veils as “deeply offensive”.

 

Striking the right balance – between an outright ban and leaving the issue to the discretion of schools – is difficult. Official guidance on facial coverings in schools – from the niqab, a veil in which the eyes are visible, to the burka, a full body veil in which the eyes are covered by mesh – was updated last year. Though the Department for Education has conspicuously avoided legislation, it backs head teachers who ban veils “on the grounds of health, safety and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

 

Now public opinion in Britain is swinging. A recent YouGov poll of 2,205 adults found that 67 per cent supported a complete sanction on wearing the burka. Proponents of a ban say schools in multicultural areas are calling out for clear restrictions on facial coverings, which, they argue, can impede learning, socialising and jeopardise an institution’s security policy.

A Muslim Caregiver Fired Because of Her Veil

September 18, 2013

 

“Lose the veil or you are fired.” This was part of an incident reported by Tatiana Rotar, a 26 year old Ukrainian domestic worker, who was accompanied by her partner, Ashraf Gouda, an Egyptian, and owner of a food Import & Export, and resident of Malnate where he served as an Sos volunteer.

“It happened about ten days ago” says Tatiana “For two years I was working as a maid and nanny for a wealthy family of Varese. At one point my employer called me and told me that I was fired. The reason? I put the veil on to cover my head after I converted to Islam.”

From the Orthodox Christian religion to Islam: Tatiana says: “Until a month ago there were never any problems. They had never complained. Today they accuse my partner, and indicate that he has forced me to wear the veil. It this not this racism?”

The couple turned to a union to report the incident. The union has agreed to take the case. Marco Molinari the representative from the trade union CISL (the largest confederation of trade unions) said “We have picked up the case and we have already informed our legal department. Before proceeding with the dispute, that is submit for an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal, we will have to wait until she is handed a letter of dismissal. Only then can we start the legal process.”

The faces behind the veil: Muslim women speak out against ban

Mainstream British media often depicts veiled Muslim women as oppressed, stay-at-home mums who spend their days shopping and cooking for their husbands. Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, there are Muslim women who wear the niqab, work, engage and participate fully in mainstream British society. While the niqab can be a symbol of oppression overseas in places where women have no choice in the matter, here in the UK it takes on a very different symbolism – one of women refusing to be part of the present-day society’s vapid consumerism and sexualisation.

 

Four Muslim-veiled women shared their experiences of wearing the niqab and considered what a ban might mean for future generations. All outlined their frustrations on common misconceptions of veiled women as “unintellectual” and “immigrants.”

 

Aysha, 23, is a master’s student from London who started wearing the niqab when she was 17.

“When wearing the niqab it comes down to the individuals involved. My teachers were very open-minded – they did not see it as a barrier to the British way of life but respected it and treated me like a normal person. I have no problem interacting with male colleagues or teachers; the veil is there to protect me as a Muslim woman.

 

“I think the ban by the college is criminalising and discriminatory. Hundreds of women across the UK wear the veil; by banning it you are taking away their right to education, alienating them and hampering community cohesion and integration. This is not a security issue at all – ask anyone who wears the niqab and most of us will remove it to identify ourselves.”

 

Saadiyah, 22, is a cover supervisor at a school in the Midlands and started wearing the niqab aged 13.

 

“A friend of mine inspired me to start wearing the veil. I was really young at the time and had to convince my parents I was ready for it. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham while wearing the niqab and never saw it as a barrier. “My lecturers treated me like every other student; I took part in classes, did presentations and interacted with students both male and female. People were curious and always asked me questions but never in a negative way.

 

“I now work as a cover supervisor at a catholic school and one of the requirements is to show your face while teaching. As a result, I remove my niqab while at work. “The way you dress should not determine whether you can access the right to education. One of the great things about Britain is that it is an open, democratic society. How can people respect other religions if our MPs and institutions are attacking this basic freedom?”

 

Samina, 35, is a full-time PhD student, researcher, consultant and mother of two, who decided to start wearing the niqab four years ago.

 

“It was very different when I started covering my face. While studying and at work, it was not an issue – most people understood why I was wearing it and respected it. Interestingly, male colleagues admired my decision and got along with me, while I had a harder time from some female counterparts. “When out in public, I’m always living in fear as people are very hostile towards me. I’ve suffered verbal abuse on numerous occasions and almost got knocked over in a Sainsbury’s car park because of the way I was dressed.

 

“The banning of the niqab will impact negatively on Muslim women – how a woman dresses should not define her. When conducting interviews for jobs, I don’t look at religion or the way people live their life, I look at their skills, abilities and intellect.”

 

Former chair for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ Welsh division, Sahar is a molecular geneticist for the NHS and began covering her face at 14.

 

“Wearing the niqab gives me a sense of strong Muslim identity, character, dignity and freedom. It’s totally a personal choice, I’m not oppressed, I’m not isolated, I’m highly educated and I’m a Muslim British and an active citizen. “There is no place for discrimination and racism in 21st century and actions like banning the niqab are destroying the fabric of our British society.”

 

Nick Clegg ‘uneasy’ about ban on Muslim veils in school

Deputy PM says he understands teachers feeling uncomfortable about pupils wearing veil, but does not back ‘blanket prohibition’ Nick Clegg was asked about a ban on face coverings at Birmingham Metropolitan college during his LBC radio phone-in. Nick Clegg has backed teachers who feel uncomfortable about pupils wearing full-face Muslim veils, but says he is “uneasy” about a college that has brought in a blanket ban. The deputy prime minister said he could “totally understand” teachers who did not want full-face veils in the classroom as they needed to make “eye contact and face contact with pupils”. However, Clegg said these were “exceptional circumstances” and he generally supported people’s right to wear whatever religious clothing they liked.

 

“I’m really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear,” he said on LBC 97.3. “I think I’ve set the bar very high to justify something like that because one of the things that is great about our country is that we are diverse, we are tolerant.” People do dress differently, people do have different faiths, people do have different convictions and that is reflected in what they wear, in how they present themselves.”

Birmingham college reverses decision to ban Muslim face veils after protests

A college has abandoned its ban on Muslim face veils after a storm of local protest, a planned demonstration and the involvement of the prime minister. Birmingham Metropolitan College climbed down late on Thursday despite David Cameron and the Department for Education endorsing its right to have such a policy. Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, had said he was “uneasy” about the move. A Muslim women’s group called the original ban “disproportionate” and challenged the college to justify why it had considered it.

The college had originally said students must remove all hoodies, hats, caps and veils to ensure individuals were “easily identifiable” as part of keeping a “safe and welcoming learning environment”.

 

The multi-campus college, which teaches more than 9,000 16- to 19-year-olds as well as thousands of adult learners, said media attention caused by the protests might detract “from our core mission of providing high quality education”. A petition against the policy had gathered 8,000 signatures and hundreds of students had planned to demonstrate against the policy on Friday. City councillors and MPs had also protested.

 

Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: “This change in policy is enormously welcome. The college has made a wise decision to rethink its policy on banning veils for a group of women who would have potentially been excluded from education and skills training at the college had the ban been enforced.”

 

Aaron Kiely, national black students’ officer for the NUS, said: “I’m delighted that the petition attracted so many signatures in such a short amount of time, which affirms just how outrageous the decision to enact this policy was.”

 

Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, said: “The complete ban of the face veil on campus by the Birmingham Metropolitan College was a disproportionate response because female students who wear the veil are not only very small in number but were also willing to show their face when required so their identity could be verified.

 

Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering, will introduce his private member’s bill to ban the wearing of face coverings in public for a second reading in February next year.

Three years ago he told the Independent: “I just take what I regard as a common sense view. If you want to engage in normal, daily interactive dialogue with your fellow human beings, you can only really do this properly by seeing each other’s face.”

 

Jack Straw, then leader of the Commons, suggested in 2006 that wearing a veil might hinder community relations.

Veils are not appropriate in classrooms or airport security, says Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

It is not appropriate for students to wear a full veil in the classroom or for people to go through airport security with their faces covered, Nick Clegg has said. But the deputy prime minister said he did not want to see a state ban on the wearing of religious items of clothing in particular circumstances. His comments came as a Liberal Democrat minister said the government should consider banning Muslim girls and young women from wearing the veil in public places.

 

The Home Office minister Jeremy Browne called for a national debate on whether the state should step in to prevent young women having the veil imposed upon them. His intervention was sparked by a row over the decision by Birmingham Metropolitan College to drop a ban on the wearing of full-face veils amid public protests. Browne said he was “instinctively uneasy” about restricting religious freedoms, but he added there may be a case to act to protect girls who were too young to decide for themselves whether they wished to wear the veil or not.

 

He told the Daily Telegraph. There is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married.

“This is a free country and people going about their own business should be free to wear what they wish. I think it is very un-British to start telling people what pieces of clothing they should wear.

 

“I think there are exceptions to that as far as the full veil is concerned – security at airports, for instance. It is perfectly reasonable for us to say the full veil is clearly not appropriate there. And I think in the classroom, there is an issue, of course, about teachers being able to address their students in a way where they can address them face-to-face. I think it is quite difficult in the classroom to be able to do that.”

 

The Tory backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston said the veils were “deeply offensive” and were “making women invisible”, and called for the niqab to be banned in schools and colleges.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said he was disgusted by Browne’s calls to consider banning Muslim girls and young women from wearing the veil in public places.” This is another example of the double standards that are applied to Muslims in our country by some politicians,” he said. Adding: “We would expect these sorts of comments from the far right and authoritarian politicians and not from someone who allegedly believes in liberal values and freedom.”