Meet 36-year-old Fajila who may become first British politician to wear ‘niqab’

She will stand for Councillor in the Bastwell and Daisyfield ward of Blackburn which is going for elections on May 5

Satyen Mohapatra
Satyen Mohapatra

London: While Indian women continue to struggle with the Hijab controversy, a Muslim mother is contesting for a political office in Britain and may become the first British politician to wear a niqab.

Thirty-six-year-old Fajila Patel, the wife of Tory Councillor, Tiger Patel, is from the Conservative Party and is standing for the Councillor post in the industrial town of Blackburn, Lancashire. She will stand for Councillor in the Bastwell and Daisyfield ward of Blackburn which is going for elections on May 5. Nearly 84 per cent of her electorate are Muslims.

She says she is comfortable with a niqab and would like to continue to wear it.

Though Hijab, niqab, and burqa are different kinds of coverings worn by Muslim women all over the world, there are slight distinctions like hijab describes the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in many styles and colours. The type most commonly worn in the west covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.

The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf.

Headscarves are seen as a sign of modesty by people who wear them, and a symbol of religious faith, but not everyone agrees with them and in some European countries there’s a ban on wearing garments that cover the face in public.

Fajila Patel would like to be an inspiration for other women including Muslim women to contest for political posts. In a male-dominated society, she wanted Muslim women to break down barriers and participate actively in politics as there were few women in local-level politics.

She is unfazed by Boris Jonson’s comments comparing burqa-clad women to “letterboxes” and has said that she did not “agree with everything a Conservative Party politician says or does”.

She feels that there are misconceptions about women who wear the full veils in the UK.

Even though Islamophobia is a problem in her own political party, as it was her personal choice to wear the Niqab which is her right, the Conservative leadership there is defending it.

They are accepting that it is the right of the individual to show their religious beliefs in the way they are comfortable with and in case any Muslim woman would not want to wear any religious insignia, they would accept that too.

If successful, Patel is believed to be the first Tory councillor to wear the niqab.

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