Friday, January 23, 2004


In response to my recent post about the ban on Muslim headscarves in France, I received the foillowing email:

“I was employed in Saudi by an Australian company that was under contract to its British parent. At Riyadh Air Base there were about 80- 100 Brits and about 15 or so Aussies working alongside each other as flying or simulator instructors.

To a man the Brits strongly resented the treatment of Muslims in the UK as against the treatment of non-Muslims in Saudi - I am sure you would be aware of the disparities. The Brits' experience, and my experience in Saudi, Egypt and here is that the Muslims never compromise - it is the host country that must do so. Any failure to give in to the Muslims is invariably touted by them and their supporters as discrimination, racism etc.

This did not sit well with us. While The Arab News trumpeted the latest insult to Islam in the UK or elsewhere, we were very much aware there were no churches, temples or shrines permitted in Saudi - just mosques and no more than about every kilometre apart.

The problem for the host country starts as a small insignificant cloud on the horizon. For example, in Victoria ham sandwiches are no longer served by one of the regional councils, while I understand at least one council-operated pool has set aside time for women only. All innocuous warm inner glow stuff. However, as their numbers and influence build, the politeness and warmth will be replaced by demands, as it was in Britain.

The Singaporeans (where I worked for two years with the RSAF) have no doubt about the dangers of Islam. The RSAF does not have any Muslim pilots as the government doubts the ultimate loyalty of even a Singapore born one. The concern, is that if Singapore comes into armed conflict with Indonesia or Malaysia, the Singapore Muslim just might start shooting for Allah. I am sure the Singaporean Army and Navy have similar restrictions on the employment of Muslims in sensitive occupations.

The Singaporeans must surely see us as idiots. That would be entirely reasonable from their point of view, as we seem hell-bent on importing a culture they do not like and do not trust.

As far as France is concerned I think they have left it too late - on a recent visit there I walked to the fringes of Islamic territory and sensed that I had better not go further. The Dutch are about to have the same problem with their Muslims while the Danes already do. Indeed, I thought I read recently the Danes were considering the introduction of two legal systems.

Ban headscarves - at the very minimum.”


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