An ‘Integration Agenda’ put forward in UKIP’s election manifesto not only seeks to ban the bourka. It also wants to subject schoolgirls to genital examinations annually and for parents to be prosecuted if a daughter is subjected to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“These are violent assaults upon the basic human right we all claim to ascribe to: freedom of religion,” argues Christina McKelvie MSP, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse. “UKIP has, typically, deliberately confused fascist dominance with equality. Perhaps we should be banning nuns and certain extreme right-wing groups from wearing their chosen dress?
“This kind of supremacy technique is a massive insult and a handy foil for UKIP to pick on the Muslim community. For many years I have been an ardent campaigner on ways in which we can work towards the elimination of FGM. Slamming criminal legislation upon people involved is not the way to achieve that outcome.
“UKIP’s approach to integration is perhaps best summed up in its commitment to: ‘Immediate closure of schools where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught or imposed on children.’ This is straight racism and another attack upon the group UKIP most loathes. What would be their response, then, to an end of Roman Catholic education, or of Jewish education?
In Hibo Wardere’s book, ‘Cut’, the author describes her personal experience of FGM at the age of six. Wakened in the early hours and led into an unfamiliar tent at the bottom of her garden, Hibo was pinned down and subjected to the cruellest cut, ordered by her own mother.
“Of course we need to tackle FGM and develop the right strategy to stop it,” says Christina, “but laying down a command like this will only lead to more secretive and dangerous procedures being carried out. We need to follow through our own Scottish Government strategy* to develop greater awareness and better cross-community relationships instead of raising resentment.
Christina adds: “Hibo herself stresses that: ‘Our communities need desperately to be educated on how harmful and devastating [FGM] is for women and girls. Knowing in my head that over 200 million women and girls have suffered FGM is enough to keep me fighting every day.’
“So let’s tackle the real problem, the one that needs careful and sensitive management, not using the blunt instrument of criminality and attacks on basic human rights.”