The PC Police

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BY SHIRAZ MAHER

The Daily Mail is carrying a story today about three policewomen from South Yorkshire who spent the day wearing all-enveloping burkhas as part of the ‘In Your Shoes’ scheme.

Sergeant Deb Leonard, who wore one of the burkhas, said:

I have gained an appreciation and understanding of what Muslim females experience when they walk out in public in clothing appropriate to their beliefs.

But who told South Yorkshire Police that burkhas are an ‘appropriate’ part of Islamic belief?

There are a very large number of Muslims – male and female – who do not believe that the burkha has any place in Islam. Indeed, many also reject the notion of the headscarf itself as being anything Islamic.

Those who do wear the burkha often subscribe to some of the most restrictive and regressive interpretations of Islam. It is frequently adopted by them not just as a religious symbol, but also as a political mark of difference and separation. Essentially, South Yorkshire Police have endorsed that view of Islam today, adopting the most extreme position as the norm. But what message does that send to progressive and secular Muslims who regard the veil as a hideous monstrosity?

This move will have impressed some sections of the Muslim community – but not the ones who share our values.