An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lifting the veil - or not

I was listening to Radio 4 this morning to a program about the wearing of the veil in Britain. It has been raining all day today after a spectacular show of thunder and lightning most all of the night. Purple flashes were bursting their light through closed shutters way into the early hours and thunder crashed around all night. Lightning out to sea - lightning over the mountains - lightning over the crest of the valley lighting the whole tapestry of olive groves, bamboo, mulberry and plane trees that is our diurnal vista like some pyrotechnic stage director.

A muslim woman interviewing women and girls throughout Britain about the veil and all done without pictures. Initially it occurred to me that this could not be communications as there were no faces on show - literally, it's radio remember - according to Jack Straw. The voices of young, predominantly working class women, nasally droned about Britain being for the British and veils weren't (and I recalled in parallel the numbers of women who wore veils on their hats when I was young). British muslim women with Black Country accents droned on about the religious necessity of not showing their faces (and I and I recalled in parallel stories of tribes that would not let early travellers take their photographs for fear of losing their souls). The phone rang half way through to interrupt and I did not communicate with our friend Chick because I could not see her face despite spending half an hour talking to her and even arranging to meet up as well as passing on information about our health. When I tuned back in there was a professional muslim woman speaking in a cultured, slightly northern voice, of the visible kinship and solidarity that she assured us that the veil connoted in public among muslim women (and I recalled in parallel the Orthodox Jews I mingled with daily in Hatton Garden -their long dark ringlets and big black hats and coats marking them out - and I then recalled the images of Jews in pre-war Germany in black and white contemporary photographs with their distinctive star of David armbands).

No answers.


  1. I doubt very much that women in general were still wearing veils on their hats when you were a stripling, since that fashion had died out by the 1950s - or was it different in Dagenham?

    Besides, the once fashionable veil on ladies' hats did not hide or obscure the face at all, and it was specifically introduced as a fashion which was meant to excite men - completely contrary to the excuse for the masks worn by Muslim women.

    Though I cannot find the references now, there has been quite a bit of psychological research over the years on how people perceive others whom they cannot see - on the radio, telephone, or even characters in a book, for example. Studies show that if auditors do not physically see the faces of the person addressing them, they 'put faces' on them, and the reason offered for this is that it is because the visual clues to communication are more important than the aural message.

    Furthermore, interlocutors who deliberately hide their faces whilst addressing another person normally have an ulterior motive which is primarily meant to be offensive - one only has to think of the law-enforcement officers who try to intimidate by wearing mirrored-dark glasses, or the debriefer who hides behind the bright spotlight.

    In addition, any Muslim who claims that the wearing of the naqib or burka is a religious necessity is not speaking the truth as there is no requirement in either the Qur'an or the Hadith for Muslim women to cover their face. However, the Qur'an does say that not to speak truthfully is haraam, or a sin, and that it will be punished by Allah! Funny how these people can dispense with Allah's inerrant and absolute words when it suits them, don't you think?

    BTW, your mention of people who would not have their photos taken because it removed their soul is relevant here, because Allah absolutely forbids one to take pictures of another or even to permit one's picture to be taken; both activities are haraam and subject to divine punishment. Yet despite Allah's prohibition of this activity, it is amazing just how many Muslims have rushed to appear on TV or in piccies in the press recently.

    In conclusion, never make the mistake of accepting at face value what a believer offers by way of justification for their behaviour.

  2. I wonder sometimes whether my cynical musings - wandering but never settling are too too ironical. I was merely pointing out the many, often vague ratiocinations that humans use for their behaviours, doubting them all and trying to point out the contradictions and overlaps. As I said - there are no answers - no certainties above the certainty of the riiculous nature of humanity and its self-aggrandisement

  3. Damn this Windows shit, the irony detector has broken down again - the fix must have been in the 15 critical patches I had to d/l the other night to keep their creaky system operational.

  4. ah, the truth is out...liam is an empathic curmudgeon, a pardox i sussed early on and endeared him to me