Stephen McGann, who plays Dr Patrick Turner in BBC drama Call the Midwife, has tackled Boris Johnson’s recent comments on the niqab, the veils worn by some Muslim women.
Speaking on Twitter, McGann took issue with Johnson’s recent Telegraph column – in which he said that women in burqas (the name of the full garment that covers the body and face) look like “bank robbers” or “letterboxes” – and countered it with a touching personal story.
In a lengthy thread, the actor reminisced about a recent trip to the Middle East and a meeting with a woman wearing a niqab. It transpired she had been a student at Swansea University and had fond memories of walking across the windswept Welsh beach.
“The only thing I couldn’t see of her was the small details the burqa covered,” McGann said. “Everything else was as clear as it was human. Everything important was communicated.”
He continued: “We live in a world full of our own veils. Presentations of the self that each of us makes to others in order to communicate some important aspect of ourselves. Religious. Political. Tattoos on the skin. Fashions and flags and non-verbal codes that tell others what we think worth knowing on our journey through our life.
“Sometimes these are social. Sometimes a signal. An aspiration, or a mark of belonging. But underneath that paper-thin carapace lies a commonality of character and feeling.”
To explain. Some years ago, I was asked to deliver a week of talks on communication skills to a financial company in the Middle East. /2
So for a week I found myself halfway up a skyscraper in a petrochemically-rich Gulf state, speaking to very smart Muslim staff with impeccable English about Stanislavski, body language and personal disclosure. /4