Thanks much to kasper kasper, our man in the UK, for clipping this. The news services are already buzzing about it.

Blair, like the public, is siding with Jack Straw, but I don’t know what he hopes or expects to happen here. If the wearing of the veil is a matter of faith or “identity” then Muslim women aren’t going to take it off simply to put the infidel at ease. Parliament could, presumably, pass a law prohibiting veils outright: it’d be the legislative version of that suttee anecdote Mark Steyn keeps foisting on us, and actually wouldn’t be as draconian as some measures taken in the U.S. to help integrate minorities. But I don’t see how it could be reconciled with the UK’s quasi-constitutional tradition of religious freedom.

One of our commenters criticized me the other day for offering no solutions to hard problems like Iraq and North Korea. Well, here you go, buddy. Here’s another one for the “intractable” pile.

This story doesn’t fit here except insofar as it involves Britain and Islam, but it’s irresistible so I’m linking it anyway. How much you want to bet we’re going to see it mentioned in an upcoming Steyn column as a new metaphor for something or other? All the elements are there: Europe, the crescent, violence, and sex. Does it demonstrate how continentals seduced by the new faith turn quickly to violence? Does it demonstrate how dangerous people are capable of striking you at home, no matter how far away they seem? Or does it demonstrate that Europe is so anti-reproduction it can’t even tolerate a little harmless macking in an Internet chat room? The possibilities are endless!

Update: Count leftist Italian PM Romano Prodi among the Blair/Straw contingent.

Update: Another Steyn metaphor in the making. Heh.

Update: The latest country to oppose the veil? Egypt.

Note well:

Saleh, known in Egypt as “the women’s mufti” for her numerous fatwas, or religious edicts relating to women, rebutted on daily al-Sharq Al-Awsat, that hers was “a personal comment on an increasingly common phenomenon but which was not meant in any way to offend women.”

“There is a significant difference between the hijab, a simple veil which frames the face, and the niqab, which leaves only the eyes visible” she added. “The first is a religious duty, but the second is a sheer cultural convention, which has no raison d’etre in Islamic sources” she said.