The French Parliament is ‘studying’ the burqa – something their President Sarkozy thinks is a ‘sign of debasement’ for women...this coming from a man whose wife’s nude photos were sold for $91,000 at auction!

Having the body – in real or in picture form – of a woman being sold to the highest bidder is not a debasement – but covering up is? Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?!

And you know….our politicians don’t have enough to contend with…what with far right extremists being elected, out and out fraud being committed by their peers left, right and centre (excuse the pun!) and the economy going to pot….our very own Chris Davies, Lib Dem MEP is getting in on the act…saying ‘most women wearing the veil are forced to by their husbands’.

I must applaud Mr Davies…I mean there is hardly a researcher alive who will have been able to access 50 % of the woman who wear a burqa in the UK, let alone MOST of them.

He’s pulled off quite a feat in being able tell us what most of them think!

The opinion that most women are ‘forced’ to wear the burqa is absurd.

Some in the UK probably are, and for those who are it is absolutely wrong.

For women in society who face stigma and even violence if they don’t wear the burqa it is most definitely an oppressive garment that I believe Islam itself would reject.

But what of the women here, in the UK, who choose to wear it. I will bet my bottom penny (if betting were allowed) that I have met, spoken to and had long term interaction with more veiled women than Mr Davies (or his speech writers)!

Studies, commentators and even experience of the fashion industry repeatedly tells us is that there is a direct link between the insecurity of woman and the need to ‘look good’.

I’m not taking away from all those women who wear nice things and put on the make up because it makes them feel good about themselves, but part of why we feel good is because we know what others can see.

Mr Davies has no idea how strong a woman has to be before she can choose to shun others approval, ignore what people think and wear what she wants, how she wants. He has no idea the confidence one must have to consciously make yourself visibly invisible; especially in a society where being someone is everything.

And he certainly has no comprehension of what it means to live your life knowing that most of the people that see you look at you as though you were a victimised nothing….and still be able to walk with your head held high.

Veiled women in the UK are some of the strongest women I know.

I don’t wear the burqa. I choose not to. I don’t believe my faith requires me to do so.

But I will stand up and defend each and every woman’s right to do so, should she so choose.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. In a society where a woman can decide to take as much off as she wants, she should never be stigmatised for putting clothes on!

Dr Bano Murtuja is a writer for ‘No Comment’ - Avenues for the Curious Minds