I'm really uncomfortable with women wearing veils.
Put simply. If somebody hides their face, I become suspicious. I feel threatened, and that perceived threat makes me angry.
More and more, I'm seeing women in Oldham with only their eyes on display. You'll notice it yourself, certainly if you live here.
I have no problem with traditional Muslim dress. If you want to wear a headscarf by all means, do. If you want to practice Islam, please do. But if you cover your face, you're acting as if you have something to hide.
If practising Islam meant women had to do this, why would so many Muslim women wear non-facially-obscuring head scarves? They wouldn't. So how can it be a necessary item of Muslim attire?
The veil is also a security risk. We need to make sure that the people who watch the 4.2 million cameras in our country's streets and shopping centres can do their job. That includes the ability to give a physical description of each person that walks through their doors. They can't do that if their customers are wearing veils.
The next time a veiled woman walks past you in the street, take a good look at her eyes. Every time I've checked, she's been looking at the ground. Does a woman do that if she's proud of how she dresses, or comfortable in her appearance? I think not.
In 2000, race riots tore this town apart. Most of us, me included, don't want that to happen again. There has always been racial tension in Oldham for as long as I've lived here (1983). If women in larger and larger numbers continue to wear veils, it doesn't take a political forecaster to predict what's going to happen. I just hope both sides of the community can see that, and deal with it responsibly. Prejudiced attitudes have been a barrier for cultural integration in Oldham for some time now, but increasingly, veils are too.
Please don't judge my whole blog on the content of this post. I normally cover celebrities, Manchester events and creative writing. But I also throw in political commentary, and whatever I'm thinking. Living and working in Oldham, I now see veiled women every day, whereas just a few years ago I never saw them at all. I don't agree with it, and I'm not going to keep quiet about it either.
Does anyone else think that letting people cover their faces in public isn't fair on the rest of us? Does anyone else think that right-minded, intelligent people shouldn't shy away from this subject out of fear of being branded “racist”?