While the Islamic world in general works itself up into another paroxysm of Rushdie Rage, in India the Rage Du Jour is Pratibha Patil Rage. She dared to criticize the veil, you see.
“Fury as presidential hopeful urges women to throw off “˜veil of invader,– by Jeremy Page in the TimesOnline (thanks to all who sent this in):
The woman nominated by India’s ruling Congress party to become the country”s first female president was at the centre of a national furore yesterday after she urged Muslims to throw away their veils.
Pratabha Patil appeared relatively uncontroversial when she was put forward by Congress last week for the largely ceremonial but symbolically important post. Seen as a moderate Hindu, the only criticism levelled at the 72-year-old governor of Rajasthan was that she lacked national stature.
By yesterday, however, Mrs Patil’s name was on the lips of Muslim leaders, who accused her of insulting Islam. Outraged by her comment that the veil has been imported to India by Muslim invaders, they are calling on Congress to ditch her and choose a more secular presidential candidate….
Mrs Patil, who is a member of Congress, made her remarks about the veil, or “purdah”, at a conference in Udaipur over the weekend. “Women have always been respected in the Indian culture. The purdah system was introduced to protect them from the Muslim invaders. However, times have changed. India is now independent and hence, the systems should also change,” she said.
“Now that women are progressing in every field, we should morally support and encourage them by leaving such practices behind.” Muslims make up nearly 14 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion people and many Indian Muslim women still wear headscarves and veils. Orthodox Hindu women also cover their faces before elderly male relatives although it is not an obligation of their religion.
Maulana Khalid Rashid, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said God had asked women to wear the veil and that the tradition was enshrined in the Koran.
Yahya Bukhari, a member of the consultative committee of the Jama Masjid, Delhi’s largest mosque, called Mrs Patil’s remarks “anti-Muslim”.
“It is a purely religious matter and she has no right to interfere in matters of any religion,” he said. “Pratibha Patil is an educated woman but her statement reeks of ignorance.”
Maulana Mehmood Madani, general secretary of Ulema-i-Hind, another Muslim organisation, accused her of trying to rewrite history. “She must apologise and withdraw her observations,” The Times of India quoted him as saying.