A Muslim women wearing the niqab has been turned away from her son’s parents evening because of security concerns.
Maroon Rafique was told by college staff that she could not come to the parents evening unless she removed her niqab. The 40-year-old from Manchester has visited the college on previous occasions and there never seemed to be a problem, but on this occasion she was stopped in the lobby. The College staff told her that her face veil was a security risk. She was then forced to ring her husband who attended for her.
The media has jumped on this story but rather than see Maroon Rafique as the victim, the debate has yet again,moved to Muslims and integration. No one seems to ask the real questions about how a few inches of cloth over someone’s face can be a threat to British society.
If a woman wishes to wear a niqab then surely it is her choice to do so. An educational institute that is supposed to be a bastion of free speech, diversity and acceptance, should not be turning away parents on the basis of how they chose to dress.
Unfortunately, there has been an increased number of these actions since the UK went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The actions of the UK abroad are directly linked to the increase of racism and Islamaphobia in this country. You cannot kill Muslims abroad whilst not attacking Muslims at home, whether it is in the form of targeting women for a few inches of cloth or expecting Muslims to adhere to an imaginary notion of Britishness invented by the elite. What is clear to many is that talk of ‘security’ and ‘Britishness’ is just a veneer for xenophobia and scapegoating. At a time of government cuts and recession politicians turn on the most vulnerable in society to distract people from the real issues.
Maroon has defended herself admirably; she phoned in live to the BBC Asian Network and came across as articulate and composed unlike the bigoted voices that opposed her. Most of all it is clear that she is a mother that cares about her son’s education. The college have said that they are looking into the concerns raised by Mrs Rafique, but it does not excuse the fact that they treated her in a degrading manner.
She is yet to receive a formal apology for her treatment at the hands of the college staff.