A couple of weeks ago I stood at a busy crossing in Glasgow, waiting for the lights to change. Beside me stood a person in full Islamic veil. I had no way of knowing whether the person was male, female, young, old, pleasant, hostile or detached. Yes, I felt uncomfortable. And this was before Jack Straw’s comments about the veil. Leaving aside my own unease at the implications of the place of women in Islam, I have to agree with Jack Straw. He is someone who has plainly invested much time and energy in the area of race relations and I respect his views.
Perhaps I should add that I also feel uncomfortable being served in a restaurant by a young woman with a bare belly. And that is hardly hygienic either.