Agreeing with Polly Toynbee
A strange week ... first agreeing with most of a Compass pamphlet ... now finding an article by Polly Toynbee I completely agree with:
Her argument against the veil makes sense because it is based on women's equality, not on irrational fear of the "different".
It's as much, if not more, an issue for Muslims to debate about the role of women within the Muslim community as it is one for the rest of us to debate as an issue about the role of the Muslim community within wider British society.
The description used by Tony Blair today - that the reason for debating the veil is that it's a "mark of separation" from the rest of society and might make non-Muslims feel "uncomfortable" doesn't make sense. If it did the logical consequence would be to oppose Sikh turbans, Hassidic Jewish black coats and hats, rasta dreadlocks etc. - all of which are also "marks of separation" - which of course no one is saying.
Toynbee is also consistent in that she argues against faith schools in the same article and calls for a completely secular state.
Blair, much as I support him on other issues, has got this badly confused: how can he logically justify public debate about an item of clothing that marks separation but be in favour of schools that actually physically separate children of different faiths?