SOME years ago I was invited to Saudi Arabia to partake in an all party investigation into something important.
I can’t quite remember what it was, maybe the price of eggs; when it’s an all expenses paid trip the subject doesn’t really matter.
I do recall at the time being a trifle concerned because Saudi Arabia is of the Muslim persuasion and liquor stores are notoriously few and far between.
In the event I needn’t have worried as I soon discovered that you can drink whatever you like as long as you do so out of a tea cup. It’s all about image you see.
The point is that when we called in at our embassy in Riyadh the ambassador thought we might enjoy a guided tour of the souk so off we pranced through the narrow and crowded alleyways, fending off offers of carpets, jewellery and more silver and gold than you could shake a stick at.
But it wasn’t the enthusiasm of the various salesmen (they were all men) that has stayed in my memory.
What is still vivid is the sight of Arab chaps proceeding through the market followed by six or eight wives each of whom were identical, dressed from head to foot in black burkas.
The question that came to my mind was: How do you know if the eight wives that travel home with you are the same eight that you took out? In Riyadh women must remain covered when in public so any error in mustering one’s wives would not be discovered until you got them home.
A real wife might still be wandering the souk or have gone off with the wrong husband.
What brought this memory flooding back was the news that the mayor of Coín has banned the wearing of burkas in public buildings in the town.
There are, after all, a number of women for whom the burka is a blessing
Now I have absolutely no idea how many burka-wearing Muslim women there are in Coín – I suspect not many – but I would counsel caution before this bye-law is enforced.
There are, after all, a number of women for whom the burka is a blessing and The Lady Bartie’s appalling sister Maude is the prime example.
Her facial features could curdle milk at twenty paces and it would be a kindness to everyone else if she was compelled to cover up before venturing into any public domain.
I agree with enforcing the no-full-burka rule in any public building, market, public transport, etc., in fact anywhere where terrorists could thereby hide their identity and cause maximum loss of life and injuries. The burka wearer should at least be willing to reveal their identity as requested
As for its use in open public spaces, streets, parks etc., I think we would have to await the first instance of terrorists using this form of disguise, before a ban.
The West prides itself on its freedom to worship, travel, speak freely, etc., and wear any clothing we choose. We must not allow the terrorists to change any aspect of our way of life, including a Muslim women’s right to wear the burka wherever she wants to. It is a right we freely give our Muslim compatriots and should only be compromised by the burka’s use as a terrorist disguise or an unwanted form of cruel, enforced male domination.