If you do go to that protest in Tavistock Square tomorrow, you might see Yasmin Alibhai-Brown there. She plans to go. She minces no words in her piece on the subject in the Independent.
Sexist dress codes and other behaviours are being spread and pushed in British universities by retrograde Islamic societies and individuals, most of them men – though there are always willing maidens who say “yes, yes, yes” to such diktats. UUK upholds this apartheid and offers up nauseating justifications. It’s done in the name of free speech. Yes, really. “Concerns … [for the] beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief systems.” Furthermore, staff should not worry unduly about the rights and wrongs of this small matter.
Because it’s only women who are being shoved to the side. Women don’t count. Women don’t matter.
What will they do if a Muslim female Mandela sits with the men? Will they carry her out and throw her down the steps? Some preachers on campus are today telling women to get back into the home, to get out of public life. Muslim women in jeans or with hair uncovered have been asked to leave lecture rooms by clothes vigilantes. Two Muslim LSE students harangued me for my unholy attire and views just a month back. Such guidelines, in effect, endorse the most offensive prejudices about women: that they are a social and moral peril and if they sit with men, pornographic fantasies or molestations will make it impossible for anyone to concentrate on lectures, say, on Plato or the Life of the Prophet.
I’ve spent my entire life in jeans with my hair uncovered. I’m lucky that way.
Throngs of students, academics, parents, politicians, and feminists should fill Tavistock Square and shout out loud. Not that they will, what with Christmas shopping and perhaps inchoate fears. Various student unions roll over, again and again, before Islamicists and their outrageous demands – backing full veils, speeches by Wahabis – and thus far, there has been no clear condemnation from the NUS of this disgraceful document penned by the deluded UUK. This latest capitulation is a disaster for feminism, for university life, for modernism, for progressive ideals and for Muslims most of all.
Muslim educational achievements are so abysmally low because our educators do not liberate them from dark age interpretations of Islam but rather encourage them. (Perhaps it’s a cunning plot to keep them down and out of mainstream life!) I know of female medical students – three Muslim and one Orthodox Jew – who will not touch male patients, of all-male religious professional networks and even worse examples.
Backward backward backward into the darkness.