Thursday, June 21, 2007

Throw off the Veil of the Invader

The woman nominated by India’s ruling Congress party to become the country’s first female president was at the centre of a national furore yesterday after she urged Muslims to throw away their veils.

Pratabha Patil appeared relatively uncontroversial when she was put forward by Congress last week for the largely ceremonial but symbolically important post. Seen as a moderate Hindu, the only criticism levelled at the 72-year-old governor of Rajasthan was that she lacked national stature.

By yesterday, however, Mrs Patil’s name was on the lips of Muslim leaders, who accused her of insulting Islam. Outraged by her comment that the veil has been imported to India by Muslim invaders, they are calling on Congress to ditch her and choose a more secular presidential candidate.

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