Now there’s a stupid idea.
Pints of hearty ale flow freely as morris dancers frolic in the spring sunshine and gentlewomen recline under a weeping willow… dressed in traditional Muslim headscarfs.
OK, that last part may seem out of place with the hackneyed picture of merry England that is peddled to tourists.
But it is time for the hijab to be embraced as an integral part of national life, according to religious leaders.
‘We want to promote a new, relaxed and confident English national identity,’ they said in a St George’s Day appeal for unity.
Relaxed? They want to promote a new, relaxed English identity by embracing the hijab? What’s the hijab got to do with relaxed?
The hijab isn’t about relaxed. It’s about religious “duty” and “obligation”; it’s about being “a good Muslim”; it’s about obeying a demanding god; it’s about fretting about “modesty” and “temptation” and not being a “whore” or a blot on the family’s “honor.” It’s nothing to do with “relaxed.”
And it’s not something to embrace, either. It’s not nice or benign or cuddly. It’s not like beautiful embroidery or colorful stripes; it’s not like spicy food or haunting music. It’s about treating women as both sluttish and dangerous, and about punishing them for life as a result. It’s about muffling their heads and necks no matter what kind of climate they live in. It’s about paying attention to rules from 14 centuries ago. It’s not a good thing. Yes, women who wear it should be treated like everyone else; no, no one should hassle them for wearing it; but that doesn’t mean it should be actively embraced, nor should it be treated as anything to do with any kind of new, relaxed, confident identity.