Straw wrong to make veil comment’

PUBLISHED: 17:02 19 October 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 06 May 2010

Mohamed Arshad Ahmedi

Mohamed Arshad Ahmedi

THE admission by the Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw that he asks Muslim women if they could remove their veil so he can speak to them face-to-face was wrong, according to a local author. Mohamed Arshad Ahmedi, of Wensum Road, Stevenage, said th

THE admission by the Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw that he asks Muslim women if they could remove their veil so he can speak to them face-to-face was wrong, according to a local author.

Mohamed Arshad Ahmedi, of Wensum Road, Stevenage, said that when he heard the Labour MP's comments about veils being a "visible statement of separation" he feared Mr Straw was opening up a can of worms.

Mr Ahmedi said: "What happens in his private meetings with constituents should really stay in private. I think he should have kept to himself anything that is going to add more fuel to the fire.

"Being in an important position as an MP, Mr Straw is giving more freedom to others who might want to follow him and give other remarks of a similar nature. You can see that happening now.

"It is the woman's right to hide her face and I think overall Britain is a very good country in the respect that it accepts other cultures quite easily."

Mr Ahmedi was speaking to The Comet while discussing his book about Salman Rushdie, entitled Rushdie: Haunted by his Unholy Ghosts.

The book, described as an "addition to the debate on freedom of speech and the position of Islam in British society today" by Mr Ahmedi, was first published in 1997 by Avon Press and has now been republished by Author House.

Mr Ahmedi said: "This book is about the freedom of speech and how far people should be allowed to take it.

"I think Mr Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses took this to the limit and in my book I have made a response in condemning the book and the fatwa issued against him.

"Before writing the book I had read all of Mr Rushdie's novels and there was an element of anti-Islam venom in his thinking.

"There has to be lines drawn. We [the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, of which Mr Ahmedi is a member] never write against the Christian faith, against Jesus.

"We are very rational and we respect them because there have to be laws and boundaries for everything.

"Take the recent Danish cartoons which caricatured the prophet. Those were wrong, but so were the Holocaust denials made by Iran.

"Mr Rushdie's book is a breeding ground for other similar writers with similar views.

"Although I hate to read this book there are other people, Prince Charles for example, who are working hard in the west to try to align all peoples.

"With my book I just want Islam to be defended and the truth to be told."

Mr Ahmedi's book is available at selected bookstores and online at www.authorhouse.com


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