The Big Questions, BBC1, Sunday 28 June 2009, hosted by Nicky Campbell.
This fascinating discussion began with Campbell asking the one woman in the studio with a burka why she wears it. Throughout the programme, she consistently maintained that it was an expression of her own personal choice, and that she was not under duress in any way. Nevertheless, she did say that she wore it because certain scholars said so.
Campbell's opening 'googly' bowled the poor woman for a duck. His question: If men and women are equal, why shouldn't men cover their faces too? No answer. Even more interesting was the tirade from the moderate Muslim preacher who insisted that the burka is a pre-Islamic cultural item of dress, which is a relatively new introduction in the UK. He was angry about the infiltration of Saudi Wahhabism and its non-Qur'anic dress codes. He asked several times where the words 'niqab' and 'burka' were in the Qur'an, and criticised the Hadith as erroneous in many places.
Peter Hitchens of The Mail on Sunday was in typically robust form, asking whether the freedom for women to wear what they pleased in a pluralistic culture like the UK would be reproduced in an Islamic culture. Essentially, those who support 'a woman's right to wear a burka' are a walking contradiction (if not, in a French politician's words, "a moving prison").
Islam does not appear to be a religion of choice; but a religion of power, of law, and of force. The Lord Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is the one who came to affirm and liberate all women who will turn to Him in repentance and faith, whatever they wear and, like the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, whatever their background.