BBC News – Dubai court annuls marriage to 'bearded lady'
This item will be picked up for novelty and curiosity value.
But actually, the episode raises all the problems in the philosophy of the person presented by the full veil. Some of the French objection to it is precisely that in a Republic, all citizens have a responsibility to present themselves in public with a full identity. And, obviously, the modern Republic does depend on facial identification for political and administrative transparency (driving licenses, voting at polling stations, etc.) The Mufti (chief Muslim jurisprudent) of Egypt rejected it as not required in Muslim law, and one suspects security concerns are part of the rejection.
One thing about the full veil many Western observers do not stop to think about is the ways the anonymity it confers can be used. Algerian revolutionaries used it to hide themselves and smuggle bombs. Girls sometimes use it to sneak out and meet their boyfriends; it is perfect– their fathers trust them more because they are dressing piously, but once they leave the house no one knows who they are. And,if a fully veiled woman sat in parliament, how would you know it was really she who cast a vote? A full, ‘shuttlecock’ veil of the type the Taliban demand would probably even defeat a retinal scan.
I think the current Western obsession with women who wear headscarves is bizarre and just bigoted. (Nuns and Amish women don’t typically excite the same negative emotions, you’ll note.) But full veiling, it seems to me, is a legitimate object of debate precisely because it raises the question of fraudulent personhood– as the hapless, if rather superficial, diplomat in the UAE discovered.
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