Baronesse Warsi, statsråd for religiøse saker og en av Storbritannias fremste muslimer, advarer mot et niqab-forbud og sier det vil være som å forby miniskjørt.
Debatten har blusset opp i Storbritannia i høst, i forbindelse med en rettssak der den tiltalte stilte i niqab. Dommeren nektet henne å avgi forklaring i full mundur, men hun kunne overvære rettssaken tildekket.
Baronesse Warsi bruker det feministiske argument: at kvinner har vunnet retten til å gå hvordan de vil. Det gjelder også niqab. Andre vil se et slikt argument som problematisk. De vil se det som retten til å iføre seg lenker.
But Lady Warsi warned against following the example of France, in which such veils are banned in public adding: “That is not the British way.”
She added: “I think people should have a right to wear what they want in this country, we don’t go around telling people what jewellery they should wear or how they should wear their hair or what garments they should or should not wear.
“Women won the right on what to wear many, many decades ago.
“There was a time when men would tell us that our skirts were too short in the sixties … I hope that we are not going to move on, 50 years on and suddenly men are going to start telling us that our veils are too long.”
She added: “I think I would be as offended if I was told ‘actually you must wear a miniskirt to work because that’s that we like women to wear’ as I would be if somebody came to me and said ‘we want you to be covered from head to toe because that’s what we like woman to wear’.”
But she said there were specific situations involving health and safety, security or identification which there has to be limits.
“Some of this is about society saying we are going to have this tolerant approach but some of it is about individuals taking a common-sense approach.
Baronesse Warsi hadde også en merkelig kommentar til saken om Al-Madinah-skolen, en privat skole, kjønnssegregert, hvor selv ikke-muslimsk personale har måttet gå tildekket.
In the wake of the recent controversy over the Al-Madinah Muslim free school, she played down concern over segregation between boys and girls in some classes remarking that most of Eton-educated David Cameron’s Cabinet had been to single sex schools.
She joked: “There are certain boys in our political system who have spent their whole life being segregated from girls as they were educated, some of the best schools in our country are segregated.”
For et par uker siden holdt baronesse Warsi et foredrag på Georgetown-universitetett der hun tok opp den vanskelige situasjonen til kristne i Midtøsten. Hun sa de var truet av utryddelse. Hun lød engasjert og «caring». Men i neste kan hun altså servere argumenter som relativiserer niqab. Det er nærmest som å undergrave systemet innenfra, fra regjeringsposisjon.