theguardian: by Victoria Coren Mitchell.
But I know this much: I will never again think that a veiled woman is strange or unknowable. Whether we’re both right or both wrong, I will recognise her as very familiar – only, perhaps, having made her choices more decisively than I make mine. And you only need to see someone’s eyes to know if they’re smiling back
As Birmingham Metropolitan College, one of Britain’s largest institutes of higher education, bans Muslim women from wearing veils on the grounds of “security risk” – then changes its mind within days – we ask: what, precisely, were they imagining?
Was it a sort of Mr Toad scenario, where a villain creeps about disguisedas a woman? Or that Muslim girls themselves would tuck Berettas under their veils, ready to whip out if a teacher prescribed too much geography homework?
I suppose either is possible and the former has, I think, actually happened once or twice in human history – but this offers only an opportunity to quote, as so often in these paranoid days of ID checks and CCTV cameras, the old Ben Franklin line: “He who values security above liberty deserves neither.”