After the French government decided to ban a small minority of women from choosing what to wear, it was only a matter of time before the Daily Mail realised they had a unique opportunity to combine hating Muslims and women, and jump on the burka bandwagon. And they’ve done so by misrepresenting Caroline Spelman’s interview with Adam Boulton on their front page (Monday 19th). Here’s the excerpted interview:
So Spelman argues convincingly that women should have free reign on their sartorial choices, saying:
“I don’t, living in this country as a woman want to be told what to wear… for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning what you wear”
But the Mail lead with the headline “MINISTER: BURKAS EMPOWER WOMEN” which is a blatant misrepresentation of Spelman’s comments. They could equally have led with the headline “Minister: Motorhead T-shirts Worn As Turbans Empower Women”. Wearing anything in particular doesn’t necessarily empower women, but removing the right to make that decision unequivocally disempowers them. This is the point Spelman makes, and the point Damian Green also makes in the article. Despite Green also contributing, the Mail lead with Spelman’s comments, though they’re equally uncontroversial, and snidely remark that Spelman “appears to be making a feminist argument”. Heaven forbid. But Green also makes a feminist argument, because it’s the same argument. Still, best not miss the opportunity to have a potshot at a female minister.
The article also helpfully provides an update in European feelings on the burka.
Spain is to debate banning the burka this week. The ruling Socialist party has indicated it will support the the opposition popular party, which says the garments are degrading to women.
The lower houses of parliament in France and Belgium have approved a ban on face-covering veils, but their upper chambers have to ratify the law.
The Netherlands may yet decide on a ban, while Switzerland has outlawed minarets, from where Muslim are called to prayer.
Sorry, minarets? I thought we were talking about burkas. The section above is entitled “Opposition Grows in Europe”: opposition to burkas, or Muslims as a whole? It’s clear what the article’s insinuating.
This topic is likely to roll on for a while, especially while Philip Hollobone MP wages a one-man war on Muslim women in his constituency and Britain as a whole. Hollobone’s previous exposure in the press came when he claimed wearing a burka was “like going around with a paper bag on your head”, refused to meet constituents who did not want to remove face coverings and was investigated by the local police. He’s also a staunch defender of your right to hate gay people, thinks only a man and a woman should be able to have children, and was one of the few Tories UKIP actively campaigned for. A ringing endorsement if one was needed. Hollobone’s Private Members’ Bill is due for its second reading on the 3rd of December this year. Expect to hear far more on the burka from the tabloids, until then.
Edit: Jim Jepps has also written about the delightful Mr Hollobone here. I’ve a feeling we’ll both be keeping an eye on this MP for a while.