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Straw blamed for 'racist' backlash

The first sign of a racist reaction came in Liverpool on Friday when a man snatched a veil from a 49-year-old woman's face after shouting racist abuse. Yesterday, protesters took to the streets of Mr Straw's Blackburn constituency to vent their anger.

The protest was told that a young Muslim girl wearing a veil in Blackburn was confronted by three youths on Friday night. One threw a newspaper at her and shouted: "Jack has told you to take off your veil."

by det on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 04:40:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OMFG...

We discussed a few months ago the issue of whether it was reasonable to expect employers to hire people whose face they can't see, whether it was reasonable that veiled muslim women will choose no to attend job interviews because they know they will not be hired, and initially whether it was justified for the State to withdraw unemployment benefits from these women for refusing to attend interviews for jobs they are actually qualified for. This was in the context of the Netherlands.

I think Straw's words around this have not been unreasonable, he basically said it makes him uncomfortable to talk to people whose faces he can't see, and that he has been bringing this up privately with her constituents for about a year, always with a female staffer in the room when the women came to tell him of some problem. But I wonder whether in the current climate it is possible to voice these concerns openly without having idiots attack muslim women shouting "Jack has told you to take off your veil" (which he emphatically didn't) and sparking protests by muslims...

I think the day is not far off when an Islamist political party will start contesting elections in the UK, and scaring people shitless. And I am not talking about Respect (at least in its current incarnation).

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 04:50:56 AM EST
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This is only partly about Muslims. If you set up a climate of xenophobia - it could just as easily be about people with long hair, or Spaniards - then there will always be idiots who use it as an excuse to pick a fight.

The problem is the idiots - and every culture has them, including Westerners and Muslims. Ideologies are only a problem to the extent that they encourage this kind of thing.

(And every so often a culture goes off the deep end and the idiots take over. That's when you get Nazi Germany, the Taleban, and Bush World.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 05:32:00 AM EST
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I think the day is not far off when an Islamist political party will start contesting elections in the UK, and scaring people shitless.

If it does happen, let's just grab that party and the BNP, lock them in an arena, and let them slaughter each other.  We'll ship you Pat Buchanan from the states, too, and kill two birds with one stone.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 09:36:59 AM EST
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According to wikipedia (2001 census data) Muslims in England and Wales are only 3% of the population, so an Islamist party cannot really poll all that highly, so it would not be obectively scary, but only subjectively.

grab that party and the BNP, lock them in an arena, and let them slaughter each other

Very funny. Trouble is, you'd likely find places like East London [Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest] doubling as this "arena".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 10:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I wonder how many of those British muslims are actually "Islamist" and how many are just your average British Subject who maybe or maybe not goes to Mosque and just wants to live a normal life, small business, send kids to college, tend the garden, etc.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 04:41:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't add anything of real value to what TBG said.  There are idiots all over the world.  I suppose we should find it reassuring that we all have to deal with the same sorts of lunatics.  (My argument stands: People are generally the same where ever you may be.  We just have to break them up into smaller groups to get the more accurate picture.)

Personally, I didn't find Straw's comments to be at all racist.  I don't like talking to people whose faces I can't see either.  Am I going to rip off their veils?  Of course not.  It's my problem, and I get over it in short order when I talk to them, anyway.  Or I can choose to not talk to them.

Too large a chunk of the Muslim population really is too sensitive, though.  If you don't want to take the veil off, write a fucking email to his office about whatever you wanted to talk about instead of annoying viewers with pointless marches.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 09:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Straw still received, listened to and helped veiled women who came to his surgeries, he just let them know that not being able to see their faces made him uncomfortable. I am not aware of any public protests. However, since he came out publicly on the topic, the press took the (IMHO) wrong spin on it, broadcast his "gaining backing" from political and religious (Xian) figures, then broadcast (IMHO misplaced) acusations of racism, and then people started assaulting veiled women, and some muslims started protesting.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 09:58:18 AM EST
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I have been disappointed at the lack of informed comment in the British media. There are genuine Islamic reasons for not wearing a veil. Just as there are islamic reasons for wearing one. It would be nice to see Irshad Manji, Amina Wadud or Shirin Ebadi on this.

However, the debate has simply been pitting the hackneyed views of the same old biased male voices and a few veiled women tellng everybody how wonderful it is to be hidden from the world and countering them with the ill-informed prejudice of Joe and Jane vox pop saying "it's all wrong innit".

Very unimaginative

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Oct 8th, 2006 at 02:08:14 PM EST
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