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Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

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Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Ivan on Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:31 pm

First topic message reminder :

In July 2005, Yassin Omar put on a full veil when running away from London after his failed bombing attempt. Now Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, who was under surveillance due to his connection with the Somalian terror group which bombed a Kenyan shopping mall, has done something similar. This has opened up the discussion on whether the UK should follow the example of France and Belgium and ban full face coverings. It will no doubt provide an opportunity for right-wing bigots and racists to crawl out of the woodwork, but it’s also an uncomfortable topic for those of us on the left in politics.
 
Let’s start with a few definitions. The niqab is a combination of a head covering and scarf that covers all of a woman’s face except for her eyes. The burqa covers the whole body from the top of the head to the ground, covering the entire face, including the eyes - with just a mesh cloth to see through. The hijab, which is the most common type of headscarf worn by Muslim women in the UK, covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear.
 
As an atheist, I have no empathy for any religion, but I accept the right of others to believe absurdities if they wish to do so. So why is this topic uncomfortable? Because, at first glance, it doesn’t seem compatible with equal rights for women, which has always been a goal of the British left.
 
Writing for ‘Left Foot Forward’, Lejla Kuric said: “My grandmother and great-aunts described their own experience of wearing the burqa in the 1930s and 40s as physical and mental slavery”. The Australian Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Aldin as-Hilali uses offensive language to justify ‘covering up’ because he blames women for rape: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… without cover, and the cats come to eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem.” Assuming that males are sex-obsessed beasts, with no control over their animalistic instincts, is also demeaning to men, and arguably leads to a rape culture in which women are blamed for their own violation and sexual abuse.
 
Kuric argues that the face veil should be opposed because it is an inherently sexist and misogynist concept at odds with all precepts of an egalitarian society. She continued: “Despite the best effort of many to present face veiling as harmless, it depersonalises women and assigns them an existence different and separate from men, burdened by social norms such as a woman is the custody of her male guardians, strict gender segregation, non-essential conversation with men is prohibited etc. It is, by design, a device of exclusion and apartheid.”
 
Bina Shah, a Pakistani writer, notes: “Many people use blackmail to convince women to wear the hijab or niqab: you won’t be a good Muslim, you’ll go to hell, you’re pleasing God, you’ll be subject to harassment and molestation if you go outside without a veil. By playing on women’s vulnerabilities, by bringing up the imagery of women being sexually violated or bringing shame upon their families by walking around unveiled, by implying a woman’s morality is linked to how she dresses, women are coerced into believing they are making a free choice in the thousands and millions, every day of their lives.”
 
In 2006, Jack Straw, former minister and MP for Blackburn, asked female Muslim constituents who wear veils to remove them when they come to see him. Arguing that watching facial expressions was important for contact between different people, he said: "Communities are bound together partly by informal chance relations between strangers - people being able to acknowledge each other in the street or being able pass the time of day. That's made more difficult if people are wearing a veil. That's just a fact of life.” More recently, former justice secretary Ken Clarke has said that the Muslim face veil is a “peculiar costume for people to adopt in the 21st century” which should be banned in court. He added that women should be able to wear “what the devil they like” - but in a courtroom the judge and jury “have got to be able to see the face of the witness”.
 
So what’s the answer? Journalist Nabila Ramdani argues that ever since France introduced its ‘burqa ban’ in 2011, there has been a constant stream of cases involving the handful of Muslims who choose to wear such garments. She claims that “not only are perfectly upstanding women being fined for their choice of dress, principally the full-body niqab, but an increasing number of defendants are being tried for attacking them. The legislation introduced by Sarkozy's government not only stigmatised Muslim women, but somehow legitimised physical attacks on them. The ban in France is a hateful assault on basic freedoms, one that has been seized on by an unlikely alliance of right-wing politicians and feminists.”
 
Kuric comes to the following conclusions on this dilemma: “A blanket ban on the face veil would be wrong – based on a liberal principle that adults can make lifestyle choices that are self-restrictive and that state should interfere as little as possible. However limited, context based bans are right and justified, based on the following egalitarian principles: the state must assert gender equality within its institutions; religious freedom is not absolute, other concerns such as security or identification must be taken into consideration; the state must protect those coerced; the state must protect children not old enough to make an informed choice.”
 
So, is this about misogyny, freedom of expression, refusal to assimilate or just devotion to faith? Ramdani warns that in France “it is mainly ‘patriotic’ men who rally around the burqa ban, viewing it as a legitimate reason to persecute a religious minority”. She concludes that what Muslim women wear is “a petty issue blown out of all proportion, one that ultimately creates nothing but hatred and violence”. Do you agree?
 
Sources used:-
 
http://www.leftfootforward.org/2013/09/progressive-case-against-the-veil/
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5411954.stm
 
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ken-clarke-muslim-face-veil-2673812
 
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/21/dont-ban-veil-in-uk
 
Further reference:-
 
http://www.theweek.co.uk/uk-news/55892/labour-calls-inquiry-al-shabaab-suspect-flees-burka#ixzz2jmLDzCeg
 
http://theconversation.com/no-point-in-knee-jerk-burqa-ban-after-suspect-has-bolted-19847
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by starlight07 on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:16 pm

Black is not the only colour for burqas/niqabs. I quite like the designer ones. But they are very pricey.

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Heretic on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:30 pm

starlight07 wrote:However I will not judge anyone as oppressive if they choose to cover their faces for whatever reasons even though the media portrays the image as such.
Can you understand that people that cover their face here are perceived to be trying to hide something and I don't mean their features.

If I as a six foot man were to walk into a bank wearing a black leather jacket and a blacked out crash helmet I would be challenged. I would be challenged quickly and I would be challenged forcibly. Why is that? Under what circumstances would my appearance be acceptable. If I showed up like that outside a Mosque would people feel intimidated? I might be there for an innocent reason but people would feel unsettled wouldn't they.

Can you now see why it is culturally unacceptable for people to hide their face?

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by timeout on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:38 pm

oftenwrong wrote:

"Peer pressure" indeed.  Our own culture has only recently moved away from the practice of wearing full mourning - apart from very formal public occasions.  At least up until my Grandmother's generation it was obligatory for females to wear all-black clothing for some months after a relative died. In an extended family, a girl could find herself wearing only black, continuously from the age of 16 until marriage as successive rels passed away.  A widow might wear nothing but black until her own time came.
 
Wearing black is still very conspicuous in the Greek community.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Ivan on Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:59 pm

Wearing black may be part of it, but this is about covering one’s face. I very much appreciate starlight07, a British Muslim, giving us her thoughts on this subject.
 
When a Muslim woman is wearing a face veil, we may feel uncomfortable about it but we know why she’s doing it – because of her religious beliefs. Of course we don’t know whether she’s doing so out of personal choice or coercion, and full face coverings can very occasionally be used by criminals, as I mentioned in the opening post of this thread. On the other hand, if someone enters a bank or building society wearing a balaclava or with tights/stockings over their head, we can probably guess why, and I doubt if it’s because of their faith…..
afraid
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Heretic on Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:41 pm

Ivan wrote:On the other hand, if someone enters a bank or building society wearing a balaclava or with tights/stockings over their head, we can probably guess why, and I doubt if it’s because of their faith…..
afraid
It is because of their faith. Their faith that they will not get caught.

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Very rarely do we see a Muslim raise their head above the parapets. I would like to welcome Starlight07 and hopes she finds this a place where she can express herself freely. I don't know how much experience of forums like this that you have but it can be pretty stormy, please remember it's not personal. It's all about ideas and discussion.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:00 pm

Dif'rent strokes for dif'rent folks. It takes considerable courage in any Culture to defy convention. Several foreign communities find it difficult to come to terms with Scotsmen wearing the kilt.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Kazza on Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:32 am

Love the avatar Starlight - is that the bollywood film star, Rakhi Sawant? Obviously not the burqa wearing type! Wink 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by snowyflake on Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:04 am

starlight wrote:Black is not the only colour for burqas/niqabs. I quite like the designer ones. But they are very pricey.
A friend of mine was given a bright pink burqa from Afghanistan that was pleated from neck to toe. The head covering bit was very restrictive with a mesh like thing where your mouth and eyes were. You do feel invisible, hot and a bit like a circus tent. It was a strange sensation and I couldn't bear it for very long and I wondered how they manage in hot climates under such a thing.

I think in a modern world, to require women to cover completely because men can't control themselves seems a bit daft but that is our western mindset. Culture is a difficult thing to change but that comes with education and the new generations who slowly change things.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:17 am

I don't feel insulted by people who choose to wear unconventional clothing. Lady Gaga presumably does it to further her career by attracting publicity. Teenagers do it for the same reason as teenagers do anything.

As Noel Coward sang, "In the Malay States they wear hats like plates, but mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun."

Why are we so exercised about what other people choose to wear?
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Bellatori on Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:21 pm

oftenwrong wrote:I don't feel insulted by people who choose to wear unconventional clothing.  Lady Gaga presumably does it to further her career by attracting publicity.  Teenagers do it for the same reason as teenagers do anything.

As Noel Coward sang, "In the Malay States they wear hats like plates, but mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun."

Why are we so exercised about what other people choose to wear?
 
You identify the issue yourself by writing " other people choose to wear" The problem is defined by that one word.

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Kazza on Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:50 pm

Perhaps we should ask ourselves why a woman would not choose to wear the burqa. Lady Gaga expresses herself through her appearance because she has the freedom of artistic expression. She might equally choose to wear a burqa, but it would be her choice, and not regulated or dictated by religion or strict cultural rules. When artistic freedom is curtailed and restricted, we lose the ability to communicate with each other in a meaningful way. Wrapping a woman in black cloth as an expression of her culture removes her ability to communicate to the world who she is, other than an object owned by her culture, created by men. It serves no other purpose.

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:08 pm

Also, Lady Gaga is a bloke so the gender politics aren't the same.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Tosh on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:11 pm

Spot on Bellatori, there are cultures in Britain who rely on intimidation to persist, the threat of ostracisation or worse keeps most free thinkers from stepping out of line, in effect a form of fascism. Basic freedom to choose ones clothing, sexuality, religion or life partner are denied by cultures intentionally designed to enslave. When I hear some women say they choose to wear the burqa I think of Stockholm Syndrome, hardly a choice if they are indoctrinated and threatened from cradle to grave.

Most if not all cultures based on Islam reject the right of the individual to make certain choices, this is why all Muslim countries rejected the declaration of human rights and invented their own bespoke version.

Less than 6% of the population of Ulster intermarry, it is called sectarianism, on mainland Britain it is called multiculturism.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:15 pm

OW's just playing devil's advocate in any case.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Tosh on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:26 pm

There are some who believe we must accept all cultures as long as they do not break our laws, I disagree, our society and our civilisation are not based ONLY on laws, entitlements such as individual liberty and freedom of choice are part of our unwritten constitution.

Tolerating the intolerant is not my idea of multiculturism, it is enabling fascism.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Tosh on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:35 pm

OW's just playing devil's advocate in any case.
Sitting on the fence is the easiest of positions to defend, it reduces reality to a game of semantics and philosophical ideals, unfortunately life is not some abstract theory.

A secular culture facilitates socialisation and integration, if cultures wish to remain segregated then they are in direct opposition to secularism, we are inviting in cultures who oppose the very basic fundamentals of our own culture.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:43 pm

At the risk of being controversial I can't help but feel that it is cultures that choose to remain separate within larger secular societies that are the most open to prejudice and are also themselves partly to blame for this. That's not me saying it makes prejudice right but the "we're too good to marry/mix with you lot" attitude (which is essentially what it boils down to) isn't exactly helpful either. I also think a degree of "PC liberalism" has allowed cultures in the UK to be too "separatist". I have no idea what the answer is though.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Kazza on Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:54 pm

Dan Fante wrote:Also, Lady Gaga is a bloke so the gender politics aren't the same.
Is she/he really?! I didn't know that. Surely not.Neutral 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Kazza on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:01 pm

No, she's definitely a woman. queen 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:23 pm

I know, I was taking the hit and miss. She looks like a drag queen though.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:31 pm

Don't you mean he looks like a drag queen Dan?
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:32 pm

Don't muddy the waters further, Stu!
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Tosh on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:42 pm

All this tripe about all cultures being of equal worth does my head in, I have been reading Nietzsche, guy was not stupid, anyway must dash.................Cool 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:43 pm

 Sorry Dan. confused 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Dan Fante on Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:57 pm

stu wrote: Sorry Dan.  confused 
Lady Gaga is a woman. The bit about her being a bloke was a joke based on her looking like a drag queen. In my opinion anyway.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Nov 12, 2013 3:09 pm

When Queen did the record, it was a bloke playing a woman playing a bloke playing a woman. Laughing Laughing 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Kazza on Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:43 pm

Dan Fante wrote:I know, I was taking the hit and miss. She looks like a drag queen though.
She's got balls though, you must admit. Smile 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by starlight07 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:40 pm

Can you now see why it is culturally unacceptable for people to hide their face?
Yes, it's unacceptable on most levels. I do not see why one should cover their faces. It causes suspicions and insecurity and that makes people uncomfortable - even those that are hiding their faces.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by starlight07 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:45 pm

A friend of mine was given a bright pink burqa from Afghanistan that was pleated from neck to toe. The head covering bit was very restrictive with a mesh like thing where your mouth and eyes were. You do feel invisible, hot and a bit like a circus tent. It was a strange sensation and I couldn't bear it for very long and I wondered how they manage in hot climates under such a thing.
I meant the long robes. Not the full head to toe covering. I went clothes shopping with my husband recently and went into the hijab shop out of curiosity. A beautiful designer jubba was worth £80-90 and that too in sale! It was very attractive ... lost all its purpose of modesty imo.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by starlight07 on Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:51 pm

Kazza wrote:Love the avatar Starlight - is that the bollywood film star, Rakhi Sawant? Obviously not the burqa wearing type! Wink 
lol thanks. I tend to use Arabian/Muslim female models for my avatars. Sometimes Bollywood but rare it is.

She is Haifa Wehbe, Miss Lebanon. Not a bad voice too.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by snowyflake on Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:09 am

You've gotten married, starlight! Congratulations! Hope you are very happy. cheers 

Weddings and babies always make me smile. Best wishes
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by starlight07 on Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:35 pm

Awww, thank you, Snowy. Smile 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Heretic on Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:45 pm

snowyflake wrote:You've gotten married, starlight! Congratulations! Hope you are very happy. cheers 

Weddings and babies always make me smile. Best wishes
Congratulations (and jubilations).

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Bellatori on Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:23 am

Heretic wrote:
snowyflake wrote:You've gotten married, starlight! Congratulations! Hope you are very happy. cheers 

Weddings and babies always make me smile. Best wishes
Congratulations (and jubilations).

Heretic
...and from me also cheers 

Mind you as I work through my 63rd year I would draw your attention to the words of the American novelist Gore Vidal who sadly died last year. A great wit and commentator on the USA.

"Never have children, only grandchildren."
Very Happy 

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:40 am

"Gore Vidal who sadly died last year. A great wit and commentator on the USA."

Funny he never married.

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:25 pm

strange that was it not OW.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Bellatori on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:24 pm

oftenwrong wrote:"Gore Vidal who sadly died last year. A great wit and commentator on the USA."

Funny he never married.

Not really. He had a longstanding male partner.

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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:39 pm

did not have any kiddies then folks. Laughing 
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by Ivan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:05 pm

The niqab makes me feel liberated, and no law will stop me from wearing it

"When we meet, I choose what you see. You deal with my mind and personality. I wasn’t forced to wear the niqab, and forcing me to take it off would be oppression." (Semaa Abdulwali)

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/06/the-niqab-makes-me-feel-liberated-and-no-law-will-stop-me-from-wearing-it
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:27 pm

There have been several fantasy stories with a theme based upon a "cloak of invisibility" or some similar device which allows the wearer to see without being seen.

They all come to a bad end.

We don't like the feeling of being spied upon.
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:37 pm

Very true OW, must be a strange feeling knowing that the female can see you very well, yet you cannot see them only what they wear. scratch
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stuart torr
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Re: Are face veils a symbol of free expression, misogyny or devotion to faith?

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