Britainistan may be a flash in the pan in some people’s kitchens, but two opinions coming from the island queendom last week have caught our humming bird’s wings-flap-long attention span. First comes the demand from a pro-Sharia campaign organisation, Islam4UK, that British Queen Elizabeth II wear a burqa in public — not during her visits to Jeddah or Peshawar, but inside the territories that she owns, Britain. Then there’s the opinion, not of some wide-eyed nutter this time but a British civil servant who also sits on a parliamentary anti-terrorism panel, that Mumbai’s November 26, 2008, attacks were not an act of terrorism.
British multiculturalism, like tossed salad in a bowl, allows some particularly leafy characters to sprout. Having Queen Elizabeth II, a nice lady who does her bit even as a prized member of the Anglican Church, to be covered up in public from head to toe with only her eyes visible would be almost as bold as demanding her being dressed in public in leopard-print leotards and an elastic sweatband round her head. But if Queen Victoria could have worn a veil — although one made of transparent honiton lace — during her wedding, there may be a case for her to try out a 21st century veil couture. This would be an act of great political and cultural significance akin to her wearing a safety pin across her regal nose in the 70s that would have short-circuited the youthful anti-monarchy rage of the punk movement. After all, what will some mad mullahs rage against if suddenly a hand comes out from under a shroud in the Buckingham Palace courtyard to say, “Rise, Sir Omar Bakri”?
As for the super-conspiracy theory from the British civil servant about 26/11, what can we say except pointing out that other super-conspiracy theory floating about here: that British halal meat is as authentic as the chicken tikka masala.