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Muslim Veil is "Mark of Separation" says Tony Blair

As if the world wasn’t done with the finger pointing at Islam’s “negative” or repressed side, here is British PM Tony Blair calling the Muslim veil a “Mark of Separation”! This is sure to spark another round of protests and perhaps the ‘devout” Muslims getting “devouter” and more rigid regarding the veils! This is really sad. It is true that in Islam the onus of “titillation” has always been thrown on the women – the object – as opposed to the man – the obsever as if the sin was in the object versus the one who got turned on! That kind of logic is what should be debated squarely! And in full detail. But it is doubtful that it will be. Instead the throw backs to the piety of a woman’s dress will be brought to the fore. That is sadder!

Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped into the debate over the integration of Muslims into British society on Tuesday, calling the full veil worn by some Muslim women “a mark of separation”.

The use of the veil has prompted a lively debate over social inclusion with some leaders of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims accusing the government of stirring up Islamophobia.

The radicalisation of some young British Muslims, rammed home in July last year when British-born Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people on London transport, has raised doubts over whether enough has been done to integrate Muslims.

Blair, who has until now encouraged the debate on integration without expressing an opinion on veils, came the closest he has to taking sides.

Asked if a woman who wore the veil could make a full contribution to society, Blair said: “It is a mark of separation and that’s why it makes other people from outside the community feel uncomfortable.”

“No one wants to say that people don’t have the right to do it — that’s to take it too far — but I think we do need to confront this issue about how we integrate people properly with our society and all the evidence is when people do integrate more they achieve more as well.

“I’m not saying anyone should be forced to do anything,” he told his monthly news conference.

Blair also said he fully supported the way a local education authority had handled the case of a Muslim teaching assistant who was suspended for wearing a veil.

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Desh Kapoor

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