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Taj Hargey supports ECHR ruling on niqab ban

Taj Hargey supports ECHR ruling on niqab ban

Categories: Latest News

Thursday July 10 2014

The Daily Express, and The Times report on the letter from Taj Hargey’s published in The Times newspaper in which he commends the European Court’s ruling on the niqab ban in France and urges the UK to follow suit. 

Hargey, who has been vitriolic in his condemnation of the burqa and niqab in the past, returns to form pronouncing that “There is no Koranic mandate for female facial masks; it is not culturally common for Pakistani women to conceal their faces; and no one, including women, has an unqualified right to dress as one pleases in public.”

But it would seem his regard for religious garb or symbols is not indiscriminate. He once wrote in the Daily Mail, addressing a claim by the Devon and Exeter Trust that wearing a crucifix is not an essential requirement of Christianity, 

“But who appointed these quangocrats to pronounce on matters of religious doctrine? What right do they have to lecture a devout woman about her cherished beliefs?” 

Do the same criteria, of leaving a devout woman free to express her cherished beliefs not extend to Muslim women? It would appear not. 

Furthermore, his anti-Muslim discrimination becomes more apparent when one considers his criticisms of a ban on the cross as “a mockery of our treasured right to religious freedom” while indicating contrary views in regards to the burqa and niqab. 

The Daily Express notes Hargey’s warning that Britain had been ‘conned’ and ‘hoodwinked’ into thinking ‘that the burka/niqab is intrinsic to Islam’ by ‘Muslim zealots’. 

“It is nothing of the sort: it is pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and ipso facto un-Muslim,” he states. 

Describing it as an “archaic tribal rag” and an “imported Saudi fad”, Hargey proclaims that it should be rejected on “compelling religious, social, sexist, security and health grounds”. 

Ignoring the many women who declare that they choose to wear the niqab of their own volition and that they do so on their reading of the Qur’an and, importantly, the traditions of the Prophet (saw), Hargey pushes for the selective denial of religious freedoms to suit his own disposition. He takes no account of the myriad of opinions in all religions in respect of text interpretation and he singularly overlooks the validity of the traditions of the Prophet’s wives in his assessment of what is or not ‘intrinsic to Islam’. 

Hargey is also wrong to suggest that banning the niqab or burqa on sexist or security grounds is justified. Even the European Court rejected the claim that the ban could be defended on grounds of security or ‘respect for gender equality’. 

Similarly, the argument that a ban was in the interest of security does not hold considering that the complainant SAS, who brought the case to the European Court, did not claim that she should be permitted to wear the niqab while undergoing a security check for identity purposes. 

Hargey seems oblivious that the “liberal human rights industry” he refers to actually espouses the freedom to choose unless the choice harms others. A point made by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg as he emphasises the need defend the minority against the ‘tyranny of the majority’. 

Liberal human rights aim to guarantee individual freedoms of religion, thought and conscience, and of expression. Contrary to what Hargey would have readers of the Times or Daily Express believe, for many niqab wearing women, the veil is precisely an expression of their own interpretation of Islam and of modesty. Who is Hargey to tell them otherwise?


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