Surrey Police Officer's and Staff
It is easy to be a cynical old dinosaur and criticise events such as this. If the focus had been on policing issues such as searching someone wearing a hijab I could understand, but I am assured that front line officers have had no such input.
Personally, I have always seen the hijab as a sign of the oppression and subjugation of women by men. I have seen women on the television insisting that they wear the hijab through personal choice. I have always felt that being indoctrinated from birth to wear it and to do what you are told hardly amounts to free choice.
I thought perhaps it was time to educate myself on the matter and so I went to the World Hijab Day website to try and find out more. The link takes you to two videos that I have watched. The second one features women wearing the hijab who state they wear it for a number of reasons including 'I want people to judge me by myself, not how I look.' 'It is my choice to wear it.' and 'I wear it because I respect God.'
I then went to the first video and listened to an Imam giving a talk entitled 'Beautiful Lecture for Sisters about Hijab.' I found this quite alarming considering this is, presumably, a moderate Imam who is being put forward as a voice of reason. You have to wonder what others may be saying. He says that to show shape, flesh or hair is a sin. 'Guard your beauty if it is honour that you seek because the people around you are like wolves on the prowl.' Does this mean that it is feared that women showing any shape, flesh or hair will drive men into an uncontrollable frenzy?
The Imam then relates a story about a Muslim man who went to the USA to study. He had to do some group work with a western woman. He was embarrassed and would not talk to her. The women lost her temper with him and stood up and accused him of degrading and oppressing women. He responded that Muslims treat their women with respect. Every woman is a sister, mother, daughter, aunt. Etc. Muslims will go to any lengths to defend their women and their honour. He then went on to say 'Your women are like a joint, a drug. They get passed from man to man. Everyone takes an inhalation until they have had their fill and then it gets passed to the next until everyone is finished. And then they throw it on the ground because it has no more purpose, it is worthless and it gets stepped on.' The western student was so impressed by what she heard that the following week she came to college covered from head to toe.
I have some sympathy with those who criticise the moral values of western society. I am constantly disappointed that equality in this country sometimes means women lowering themselves to the behaviour of the most drunken, debase and debauched men. But is the hijab really the sort of equality we aspire to?
The purpose of this post is not to cause offence to any religious group. I respect your right to believe what you want and wear what you want. In return I expect to be allowed to express my own views freely. What I really am questioning is, what business is it of the police to get involved in this way? By taking part in World Hijab Day do we support the Imams views, clearly available on their website? They seem to contradict other policies. What differences are we celebrating? By all means teach police officers enough about culture and religion so they can carry out their job but it need go no further than that. I would argue that to do so is hypocritical and damaging to the police.
Incidentally, as per my other recent post 'Is This the End of Free Speech' my views would not be allowed in the police or public sector and would almost certainly result in dismissal.