In the desert a BURKA makes a hell of a lot more sense than a BIKINI

Burkas have their origins in the Middle East. What to they have a lot of in the Middle East besides oil and war?

Sand.

And not soft, damp beach sand. Hot, dry desert sand. The kind of sand that can be whipped up into a storm by the slightest breeze.

Sandstorms are painful

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A massive sandstorm in Sudan

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a sandstorm but if you have you will probably have run for cover, shielding you mouth and eyes as you did. Millions of tiny grains crashing into you at high-speed is not a pleasant experience. In an environment where sandstorms are common, covering as much of yourself as possible makes complete sense. Even covering your eyes with a mesh doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Do you know what else they have in abundance in the Middle East?

Sun.

If I were to venture out into the desert at midday I would burn in minutes. I have weak melanin. Even people with naturally darker skin can’t stay out for long in those temperatures. When people started wearing burkas, Nivea had not yet started making sunscreen and air conditioning was not a thing, so the only way to prevent skin damage and stay cool was to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Sunburn is not fun and skin cancer is even worse

So maybe wearing a burka or niqab had more to do with protecting women from the harsh desert than from the carnal desires of men?

Certainly there are tribes in the Sahara, like the Tuareg, where men routinely cover their faces as protection from the sun and sand.

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A Tuareg village

Most Muslims, at least that I know, do not think it is a good idea for women to wear the burka or niqab in Britain. Just like everyone else, Muslims communicate with our faces: smiling, frowning, biting our lips, gritting our teeth and a million more micro-expressions that can signal any one of our complex emotions. By covering her face a woman denies others the ability to read these signs and this certainly affects her ability to have a full and active role in modern society. She may not be being oppressed by a man or a religion, but she is choosing to oppress herself.

I support any woman’s right to wear a burka in Britain, but it is not a decision that she should take lightly. Are the advantages, as she sees them, worth the negative consequences?

 

 

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More Sudanese people would be terrorists if it wasn’t so damn hot all the time

The Metropolitan Police revealed details of the suspect they have detained in relation to the Westminster attack in London yesterday.

When I read that he was originally from Sudan I was surprised: most Sudanese people I know couldn’t be bothered to carry out a terror attack – not that any of them have the inclination.

You see, the pace of life in Sudan is slow – people don’t tend to rush around when daytime temperatures routinely exceed 40°C.

But Sudan is a Muslim country, so they must be terrorists right?

Except, if you were to compare Sudan to somewhere like Saudi Arabia you might not realise they were Muslims at all. For example, there are no laws against women driving, going out without a male chaperone or wearing their hair out.

Most women do wear the hijab by choice, but many – especially younger women – do not. And nobody bats an eye. The people enjoy music and dancing and singing as much as anyone in Britain, if not more.

Sudan is a pretty relaxing place

A view across the Nile in Khartoum, Sudan

I once played cards and drank cardamom-spiced coffee late into the night, at one of the many busting cafes on banks of the River Nile in Khartoum, and honestly I cannot think of anywhere I have felt more at peace.

It seems to me that whatever caused this man to attack Parliament yesterday, it probably has more to do with his experiences since coming to Britain, than anything at all to do with Sudan.

The women wearing burkas at Manchester Carnival say a lot about Muslims

We had a great time at Manchester Carnival today. The streets were bustling, the music was loud and the costumes were bright. People of all backgrounds were out enjoying the warm, if not sunny weather. Skin was on show and booties were being shaken (is it obvious that I am white). The smell of jerk chicken, curried goat and weed wafted through the air.

Continue reading “The women wearing burkas at Manchester Carnival say a lot about Muslims”

Gender segregation is everywhere you look in this country – and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing

A few weeks ago I went to my local swimming pool for the first time in a long time and I was appalled to see that there were still separate changing rooms for men and women! How can this be allowed Britain today? Continue reading “Gender segregation is everywhere you look in this country – and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing”