Ruth Dudley Edwards: Veil has no place in any dealings with the public
There is no religious requirement for the covering of a Muslim woman's face, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
ILOATHE burkas, which cover a woman's entire face and body, leaving her a mesh screen to peer through. I hate niqabs, face veils that leave just the area around the eyes clear. I really dislike grim, shapeless full-body cloaks such as abayas and chadors, and I'm not a great fan of the hijab, the enveloping headscarf, though at least that leaves the face clear.
In short, I'm repelled by the various uniforms donned by an increasing number of Muslim women and outraged when I see children being stuffed into coverings that deny them sunlight. Face coverings aggressively put two fingers up to the Christian or secular cultures of Europe where millions of Muslims have settled; they signal that integration is being actively resisted. To cover your face is to say: "I rejoice in being different from you and I don't want to know you." (Shades of Ian Paisley before he became cuddly shouting at his faithful: "Come ye out from among them; be ye separate.")
To those of us who know something of Islam, it is even more offensive that there is no religious requirement for such dress; it's just a depressing Arab cultural practice taken to extremes. The Koran simply enjoins modesty for men and women alike: Muhammad wouldn't make a fuss about my wardrobe.