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 a British Pakistani journalist who grew up in Bradford, where she started her career as a local reporter. She has written for The Times, Guardian and Independent. Her essay for It’s Not About the Burqa (Picador) appeared in the Guardian and received over250,000 hits online in two days. She has also contributed to the anthology The Best, MostAwful Job: Twenty Mothers Talk Honestly About Motherhood. THE KHAN is her debut novel. Saima lives in London.

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