Faith is a private matter

That’s not what I said. That’s what Ruth Kelly said last year when she tried to bat away questions about her ties to Opus Dei.

Funny, because that’s not what she’s saying today.

I think that over the past couple of years, the level of understanding within government of the scale of the threat that we face from… Islamist individuals and organisations has really increased and I think that as a result of that we have to take to a new level our partnership with those Muslim organisations who are showing real leadership on those issues.

So is your faith a private matter as Ruth Kelly said last year, or is it a matter for state intrusion as Ruth Kelly has said today?

Ruth Kelly has rejected claims that the government is “demonising” Muslims, after reports it is to ask universities to spy on student suspects.

The communities secretary said many groups understood the need to work in a new way to “face up to” the threat.

She urged council chiefs to help battle extremism – saying it was an issue for all communities, not just Muslims.

Ruth Kelly — the communities minister — is a person who refuses to say whether she believes that sex between two consenting adults is a sin or not. She is a member of an extreme religious organisation that advises women on what they can and can’t wear. But she will defend her precious Labour government whenever it criticises a different religion for advising women on what they can and can’t wear. It is sickening.

Phil Woolas — whose brief covers race relations — suggested that a teacher should be sacked for wearing a veil. I doubt very much that Aishah Azmi’s decision to wear the veil at work genuinely created a barrier to communication.

Has Phil Woolas ever actually been in a classroom? Most schoolchildren spend the whole lesson just staring down sullenly at their desk, doodling on their jotters or gazing at somebody they fancy. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are some pupils who don’t even notice their teacher has a veil on or not!

More seriously, it is a fact that people are able to take in more information when they are not looking at the speaker’s face. Taking in information from somebody’s face is a waste of brain power. I find myself that when I have to listen carefully I end up focusing on a stationery object in middle distance. So in what way is covering your face going to make people listen less?

It is true that if somebody has hearing problems then they will have to look more at the face to understand what they are being told. But this shouldn’t even be an issue because Aishah Azmi was prepared to teach her class without the veil. Yet Phil Woolas still wanted her sacked.

That’s the person with responsibility for race relations adding to the chorus of whining about Muslims currently emanating from senior government figures. Attacks on Muslims appear to have increased ever since Jack Straw made his comments about the veil.

Congratulations to the communities and race relations ministers for doing their best to pour petrol on this race relations fire.

Update: And here is Mr Eugenides’ view.


  1. […] The thing is, DK is probably right that there are problems with culture, language and so on that mean that in reality free movement of people can be a genuine problem (even though I think most of the “problems”, particularly with the debate about veils at the moment, are exacerbated and blown out of proportion by the government and the media). […]