I have to report a great discussion with Professor Tariq Modood, MBE, from the University of Bristol’s department of Sociology, on the issues around racial equality.
He helped to flesh out the subject for me with which I have some breadth of understanding. I have broadly come away with two main articulations.
Firstly the notion of equality not uniformity that is the laudable English tradition as opposed to say the French or American greater tendency to equality by conformity. Based around the foundation of equal citizenship (Oh, you didn’t know it was unequal? Post a comment if you want more.)
And secondly and this is a personal comment that the above being so and its implied rights to the individual, a main secondary issue is of security and appropriateness. I am a biker. It was not always so, but now if I go to a petrol station I am usually required to take of my helmet and there are often detailed signs pointing this out. At first I resented this, but I understood it and I respect it.
Some people from all quarters and for different reasons fear the veil. My esteemed friend reports that a cross section of wearers reveals a majority of teenagers rebelling who’s own mothers do not wear the veil and furthermore are embarrassed by their children’s behaviour.
I welcome all views; I do not believe in sweeping difficult issues under the carpet, please send me your views.
I feel that a combination of straight talk, at the petrol station or in front of an official, if asked to remove your helmet or veil, either do it or don’t shop there and on the other hand talking about it takes it out of the realm of the decent Muslim families embarrassment and into a perhaps more realistic perspective of teenagers will protest and dress up as mods, punks, with hoodies and veils.
Bearing in mind the issues that we all face, we need to save ourselves from future misunderstandings. Lets talk about this.
When I encounter tensions in my local community, I wonder why our officials have not been more vocal and communicative with the respective community leaders. Keep me informed and I shall keep you posted, let us not be beaten by ignorance.
I do not apologise for summarising here, this is by no means a finished statement, it is an invitation to discussion.