Take Your Veils Off


The British politician, Jack Straw, former Home Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons, and representing a seat with a big Muslim population, has some brass cojones. He has argued that the full chador is an impediment to the kind of civility and social interaction that makes an open society possible. The chador is a sign of withdrawal from dialogue and society, he argues, not integration:

The Leader of the Commons' latest comments followed his controversial call for Muslim women to remove their veils when they come to see him at his constituency office.
Asked whether he thought veils should be discarded completely, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Yes. It needs to be made clear I am not talking about being prescriptive but with all the caveats, yes, I would rather."

Straw is a tolerant, multicultural man. But he also sees the need for a single society to have its new immigrants abide by the civil, democratic norms of everyone else. Blair is wobbly on this. I get a sense that Europe is developing a spine with respect to Islamist alienation and withdrawal. Money quote:

"You cannot force people where they live, that's a matter of choice and economics, but you can be concerned about the implications of separateness and I am."