... The veil in Muslim lands is imposed upon women whose religious training and opportunities for scholarship and ritual authority is practically nonexistent. The veil is no more freely chosen than is their religion, which neither women nor men are allowed to leave without risking exile or death. Muslim women in Muslim lands or in immigrant communities in the West might gain their only access to public attention and approval if and when they espouse a fundamentalist point of view, namely one that favors Islamic gender and religious apartheid and that upholds the view that women must be veiled.
However, when Muslim women in Western countries wear the veil it has some additional connotations. Veiling is a visible, public, symbolic, and very aggressive statement about refusing to assimilate into a Jewish-Christian and modern democracy. It is a way of remaining apart, different. ... It is a way of rejecting sexual promiscuity, sexual availability in the West and paradoxically, embracing Islamic gender apartheid (arranged marriage, polygamy, wife-beating, segregation, female genital cutting, honor killing, etc.).
If veiling did not mean any of the above I might have one view about it — but might still view it as a slippery-slope problem. But since veiling does have the above meanings I say this: If we allow our Western views about tolerance to force us to tolerate the intolerant; if we allow human-rights violations to flourish as expressions of religious liberty — then we are lost. Thus, I would ban veiling in the workplace, at school, and in public venues but at this time take no position about it at home or in the mosque in the West.
Sweden's Nyamko Sabuni.
An elegant, vivacious woman who uses subtle make-up and wears soft clothes in pastel shades and tight woollen sweaters, she argues for a total ban on veils being worn by girls under the age of consent, which is 15 in Sweden.
“Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a child should wear a veil; it stops them being children. By putting a veil on a girl you are immediately saying to the outside world that she is sexually mature and has to be covered. It’s wrong,” she said.
Discussion on comments threat at Feministing.
Discussion on comments thread at Feministe.