Few subjects have been as polarising within mainstream and feminist discourse as the niqab. If a defining aspect of feminism is a woman’s agency, should we support those who wish to cover? Or is the garment a form of oppression and a symbol of the patriarchy? To examine the various viewpoints to this debate, we’ve gathered a panel of journalists, feminists, and advocates: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Saima Mir.

This discussion will reflect on the niqab’s role in today’s society, and whether Western feminism does—or should—acknowledge, support, and represent niqabi women.

About The Speakers

Saima Mir

Saima Mir is an award-winning journalist. She started her career at the Telegraph & Argus and went on to work for the BBC. She is a recipient of theCommonwealth Broadcast Association’s World View Award, and has written for numerous publications includingThe Times and The Independent. Saima’s essay for the Picador book It’s Not About The Burqa appeared in Guardian Weekend and received over 250,000 hits over two days.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is a journalist, broadcaster and author. This year she was named columnist of the year at the National Press Awards. She has written over a dozen books, including The Settler’s Cookbook and Exotic England. She is Professor of Journalism at Middlesex University.

About The Host

Shenaz Bunglawala

Shenaz Bunglawala is Deputy Director of the Research and Strategy Unit at Penny Appeal. She has written extensively on Islamophobia and its effect on the Muslim civil society, and on religion in the public sphere. She is a Director of the Byline Festival Foundation for inclusive journalism, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.