More on women in veils

Over at American Thinker, you can read about Nyamko Sabuni, Sweden’s new Integration and Equality Minister. Contrary to the Orwellian overtones in that title, Ms. Sabuni, a Muslim, is vocally opposed to female circumcision and arranged marriages, among other things. The American Thinker squiblet takes Ms. Sabuni’s appointment as the opportunity to address the veil wars suddenly raging in Europe:

I find it particularly interesting that the veil has become an object of contention in Sweden, Britain, the UK, and possibly elsewhere. The veil is not a theological requirement, but rather a custom of some Islamic countries, and it has been associated with the rise of extremist Islamism. It most definitely prevents women wearing them from fully integrating into local cultures. Quite frankly, I am offended by veiled women as symbols of oppression as Saudis claim to be by miniskirted females.

The last sentence resonated with me because it tracks with something in my day to day life. The other day, Mr. Bookworm noted accurately and with some surprise that we’re seeing more and more veiled women in Marin. As does Mr. Lifson, he expressed his distaste for these wrapped up packages, often seen shuffling behind their husbands.

It’s not only the obviously traditional married women (many of whom look like recent immigrants) getting covered up in Marin, though. The other day, we saw an energetic young woman, in skin tight jeans and t-shirt, dispensing smoothies at Jamba Juice, despite an unmistakable headscarf (that is, the scarf could not be mistaken for a fashion statement).

I’m uncomfortable seeing these shrouded figures in Marin, but figure it’s their prerogative, as long as they don’t impose it on us. After all, all over America, in Orthodox Jewish enclaves, Jewish women in wigs, hats, long sleeves and heavy stockings go unremarked, primarily because they consider that their clothes are none of our business. To me, that’s the essence of religious and ritual freedom in a pluralist country. (And yes, I recognize that there are religious and ritual practices we don’t allow despite our freedoms, with human sacrifice being the first to spring to mind.)