Political parties can’t be all things to all people, nor should they. Instead, they court votes based on their principles, and where they align with various constituencies. The progressive vote. The “family values” vote. The middle-class vote. The ethnic vote. The women’s vote.
It is the latter two categories that are colliding head-on in the run-up to the next federal election. At issue is a war of words over the niqab, a face veil covering all but the eyes, worn by some Muslim women as a symbol of devotion to their faith, eschewed by others as not being strictly necessary according to the rules of Islam. The niqab is banned in some countries including Turkey, Tunisia and France; in others, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria, it is not legally required, but is a norm that when violated is met with ostracism and physical abuse.