Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Veils and the Cricket Test

Before the London and Glasgow car bombing attempts last week, the New York Times reported on how the tolerance of Britons for veiled Muslim women already was wearing thin. (“Muslims’ Veils Test Limits of Britain’s Tolerance”).

According to the Times, the increasing number of women seen on Britain’s streets “covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes,” (the niqab), is seen by Britons as a sign that Muslims aren’t trying to fit into British culture. The reaction is increasing resistance by Britons, as described by the Times reporter:

"There have been numerous examples in the past year. A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was dismissed from her school. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In reaction, the British educational authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

"A leading Labor Party politician, Jack Straw, scolded women last year for coming to see him in his district office in the niqab. Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the niqab a 'mark of separation.'

"David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that the niqab was an affront and that Britain had been 'too deferential.'

“'It says that all men are such brutes that if exposed to any more normally clothed women, they cannot be trusted to behave — and that all women who dress any more scantily like that are indecent,' Mr. Sexton wrote. 'It’s abusive, a walking rejection of all our freedoms.'"

Nor do the Muslim women interviewed for the Times story do anythingto dispel the idea that the veil is a symbol of extremism, or even defiance:

"Some who wear the niqab, particularly younger women who have taken it up recently, concede that it is a frontal expression of Islamic identity, which they have embraced since Sept. 11, 2001, as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq, and at home.

“'For me it is not just a piece of clothing, it’s an act of faith, it’s solidarity,”'said a 24-year-old program scheduler at a broadcasting company in London, who would allow only her last name, al-Shaikh, to be printed, saying she wanted to protect her privacy. '9/11 was a wake-up call for young Muslims,' she said."

Ms. Shaikh’s remarks are a kind of shorthand way of saying, “This veil says I am for the Islamists, and against the Western nations trying to make a stand against terrorism.”

According to the Times, Ms. Saikh “started experimenting with the niqab at Brunel University in West London, a campus of intense Islamic activism. She hesitated at first because her mother saw it as a ‘form of extremism, which is understandable,’ she said, adding that her mother has since come around.”

In essence, Ms. Saikh, influenced by “intense Islamic activism,” acknowledges that her niqab is intended to be a sign of “extremism,” and that she overcame her own mother’s objections and got her to come around to jihadism, as well.

All of which justifies the concerns of those who fear the advance of Islamic triumphalism, refusing to be put off by the half-hearted protests that Muslims just want to fit in like everybody else. Although the Times reporter has to cast her articel in terms of fading "tolerance," the reactions of Britons are plain common sense.

Muslims like Ms. Saikh, and now, apparently, her mother, have taken their stand in solidarity with transnational Islam, with the ummah. Which means they see Britain, (or the United States, or any other inhabited Western country), even at best, as not their nation, but just somewhere they’re living. At worst, the countries where they live are targets for eventual jihad.

Which is exactly what British people fear when they see growing numbers of women wearing the niqab. It only follows that the growing number of veiled women represents a growing number of Muslims who see themselves united in solidarity in a religious struggle against the majority nation--against its foreign policies, its culture, and its infidel status. Should it come as any surprise that Britons would respond with growing displeasure and mistrust?

As the Times explains:

At the East London Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the capital, the chief imam, Abdul Qayyum, studied in Saudi Arabia and is trained in the Wahhabi school of Islam. The community relations officer at the mosque, Ehsan Abdullah Hannan, said the imam’s daughter wore the niqab.

At Friday Prayer recently, the women were crowded into a small windowless room upstairs, away from the main hall for the men.

A handful of young women wore the niqab, and they spoke effusively about their reasons. “Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise,” said Hodo Muse, 19, a Somali woman.

Yes, that is one of the advertised ways to get to paradise. Murdering the infidel is another. Which is why, as Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal writes, “the dots between the jihadis in the Jeep Cherokee and the women behind the veil” need to be connected. “The first are treated as a security issue; the second as a civil rights one. But they are opposite faces of the same totalitarian coin.” (“A Veiled Threat”).

As Stephens explains, conservative/liberal cogitating over whether or not distinctive religious garb should be embraced as a liberty issue, or discouraged as an illiberal separatist practice are both beside the point:

“…all this misses the fundamentally tactical element of niqab. ‘It's about enforcing separation,’ notes a former senior French Interior Ministry official who helped draft his country's 2004 ban on religious headgear in public schools and government buildings. ‘It is best understood as an intra-Muslim show of strength, a way to intimidate their own women, a way to intimidate the infidels, a way to make themselves more visible, a way to make sure no one strays from their world vision.’”

An anonymous correspondent has brought to our attention at DU the “cricket test,” proposed nearly twenty years ago in the UK by Conservative MP, Norman Tebbit. At the time, he was proposing it in regard to the UK’s huge population of Pakistanis,. Tebbit noticed how, even down to third- and fourth-generation Britons of Pakistani origin, they were always rooting for the Pakistan cricket team over the British.

Tebbit said: “‘A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?’”

Simplistic, sure. And naturally Tebbit was attacked as a racist.

But the value of a cricket test is not in qualifying or disqualifying citizens for civil rights, but as a means of illustrating an urgent problem in Western countries with large social groups simply not assimilating, or even openly rejecting any notion of assimilation.

Our la-de-da Western assumption that every immigrant group eventually adapts to the national culture has been exploited by Islam for a generation or more. The strategy provides that, "by the time the Americans, (or the British or the French or the Italians), notice that we Muslims aren't fitting in, we’ll be so many and so strong we can demand they start fitting in with us."

So well has this strategy worked that even when Islamic leaders, preachers, and activists tell us they have no intention of fitting in--instead anouncing plans to outpopulate, dominate, subdue or destroy us--we still keep right on taking for granted they’re going to forsake those old country ways just the way the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, and the Poles did before them. Why, in no time their daughters will be dirty dancing with our sons, clothes-shopping, and taking up golf!

If you think that's the way it's going, you may want to give that cricket test a try.

The veil is a warning to anyone willing to pay attention that very large segments of the Muslim community aren’t blending in. Not only that, but they’re doing the opposite of blending in: going towards greater insulation, greater separation, greater radicalization. Recent polls have indicated that first-generation Muslim young people are more committed to jihad than their parents. That's not greater and greater blending in. It's greater and greater opting out. That means the rule about the melting-pot rule isn't at work, the exception is.

When veiled women tell us that 9/11 was a wake up call for Muslims, we need to be asking what that act of war was meant to awaken them for.

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