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Ealing students have their say on wearing the niqab
FEMALE Muslim students in Ealing have been voicing their opinions over whether or not the niqab should be banned.
Already, Birmingham Metropolitan College has attempted to ban pupils from wearing the veil that covers the entire body, leaving just a slit for the eyes. It back-tracked after criticism from politicians and a petition with 8,000 signatures.
Despite this, Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne has called for a national debate on the issue, arguing that the state should step in to prevent young women from having the full-face veil imposed upon them.
But what do Muslim students in Ealing think about it?
Eman Hamid, 20, is a member of the Islamic Society at the University of West London, currently studying law.
She recently decided to wear a headscarf to gain a wider understanding of her religion, although she doesn’t wear the full niqab.
She says she is proud of and grateful to her university for allowing its students to wear what they want.
“This country is supposed to have freedom of religion,” she said. “Women should have the right to practise their religion and the right to be educated.”
Eman says only students wear the niqab. Their identity has to be checked by a female examiner before they sit an exam, but Eman does not think the it otherwise hinders them.
“They are very confident young women who participate at university events, such as debates," she said. "I don’t think it’s been an obstruction to them at all.”
Rima Aboukhachab, an accounting and finance student also doesn’t believe it prevents them from taking part in university activities.
“It’s not a barrier, but some people choose to see it as one,” she said.
Rima herself currently does not choose to wear the full headscarf but says it is something she will wear in the future because it is “sunnah” - a good thing to do in Islam.
“We’re supposed to wear it to prevent men being attracted to us," she said. "We don’t have sexual relationships before marriage, so it helps with that.”
Rima began wearing her headscarf soon after she got married as her husband was keen for her to wear it.
“He didn’t really force me. He just wanted me to wear it because he felt jealous,” she said.
She believes there are double standards at play. “I think, if they want to ban the veil, then they should ban other religious symbols as well," she said.
"It’s unfair to make a big deal just out of what Muslims choose to wear. I understand that, for some professions, facial contact is essential, but it shouldn’t be banned.”
Yet her friend, Khaleda Ahmed, chooses not to wear any type of veil and believes that wearing the full headscarf can be problematic.
“I think covering the whole face is pushing it over the edge” she said.
“You have to be aware there are people around you who want to know who they’re talking to when they address you.
“I have an issue with women where you can only see their eyes - that can be a bit scary.”