Letters: Jihadi girls in a long and batty tradition

These letters appear in the 26th February issue of The Independent

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Sad to say, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s article “Jihadi girls come from a long line” (23 February) is right about the tendency of some women to attach themselves to violent and irrational men and movements.

The 25 Points of the German National Socialist Party, drawn up at its foundation, made its policy clear: “No woman can be a member of the leadership.” Yet it attracted women in droves.

Middle-aged women filled the front rows at meetings. Girls screamed in hysterical adoration. When Hitler promised to “give each German woman a husband”, they believed him without inquiring from where, in view of the loss of 2 million men in the First World War, these bridegrooms were to materialise.

And it is just the same in other batty, dangerous and destructive movements. Turkeys do vote for Christmas.

Perhaps this tendency should be considered with an item on another page, “Brains of pre-teen girl ‘explorers’ are wired differently”. It is possible that some girls are genetically programmed to have independence of mind and some are not, the latter being most vulnerable in their hormonally challenged years. For the survival of the species both types might be necessary.

If further research lends substance to such speculations, the implications for equality are disturbing.

Margaret Brown

Burslem, Staffordshire


I think I have never read an Independent article that disgusted me as much as Grace Dent’s piece “Do girls who plot to join Isis really miss their teddy bears?” (24 February).

Nowhere is consideration given to the viewpoint that these are vulnerable young women, naive of course but who have no doubt been subjected to social media grooming. As a result, these children have placed their lives in serious jeopardy.

Grace Dent’s view appears to be that the girls are the main architects of their plight. This, far from the liberal viewpoint she claims, reminds me of the standpoint of Rotherham policemen about young girls being traded for sex.

Her snide remarks add nothing to serious consideration of this issue.

Brian G Mitchell



It is not hard to understand why the three young women from Bethnal Green enlisted willingly in Islamic State. Guns, the struggle for freedom, the chance to fight alongside handsome young men. It must seem far more exciting and relevant than schoolgirl life in London.

What matters now is that they have the right people to help them when they want out and need a fresh start. Not the police, not the media, simply people who are willing to support them when they no longer wish to be involved. My thoughts are with them.

Rachel Schaufeld

Exmouth, Devon


MPs with second jobs beyond the bubble

In commenting on MPs’ outside interests, neither your editorial nor Steve Richards (24 February) appears to draw a sufficiently clear distinction between MPs who wish to pursue parallel careers in medicine, the law, plumbing, bricklaying or whatever, and those who are out to make a quick buck by bending the ear of a powerful decision-maker on behalf of some vested interest or other. 

It is difficult to condemn the former while at the same time grumbling about MPs in the “Westminster bubble” being out of touch with the real world. On the other hand, those in the latter category simply reinforce the public’s already cynical attitude towards politics and the ethical standards of politicians in general.

Dr J R Coad

Harpenden, Hertfordshire


How is Ed Miliband managing to work full-time for his constituents while carrying out his duties as Leader of the Opposition? This whole debate about double-jobbing is the politics of envy and ignorance. 

Let the voters decide which candidate will do a better job. Personally I’d prefer the widely experienced double- or even triple-jobber with an independent and original mind to the bone-idle voting fodder from the party list. And I would include as useful experience trade union activity.

I’ve always thought that if you want anything doing you should give the job to an already busy person.

Ken Lewis



The argument that Parliament benefits from people with the widest possible life and work experience is irrelevant to multi-jobbing MPs.

It is not young doctors, lawyers or businessmen, early in their careers, who seek to become MPs: they are too busy developing their experience, seniority and competence.

If they decide, once established in their careers, when much of the experience considered to be so valuable to Parliament has been acquired, that they have a commitment to public service, then they should, once elected, concentrate exclusively on that. For Parliament to benefit from that experience does not require that they do both at once. Rather the contrary.

We all know that in most cases the argument for multi-jobbing is self-serving sophistry. The privilege of being at the centre of government and the establishment is immensely valuable in terms of powerful contacts, influencing policy and legislation, and picking up the odd knighthood or peerage. 

Notoriously the opportunities to turn this all into cash are legion – within the generous, relaxed rules. It is the hypocrisy of claiming their naked self-interest is all for our benefit that offends us most.

Keith Farman

St Albans,  Hertfordshire

At last, a politician who owns up

The media have really rubbed Natalie Bennett’s nose in it over her disastrous interview on LBC radio. I realise that the Green Party may achieve some influence at the next election and their views on important issues are of great interest to the electorate, and for that reason Ms Bennett’s interview was an important news item.

However, she was honest enough to admit that she made a complete hash of it, which is almost unprecedented in the history of political excuses. There was no “My words were taken out of context.”

Compare her straight-forward mea culpa with  the serpentine wriggling of Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind after they were caught on camera indicating a willingness to use their political connections to aid a company for cash, albeit after leaving Parliament in the case of Straw.

If anything were to make me want to vote Green, it is Ms Bennett’s honesty, even if their aims are Utopian.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon


Giant step back into the middle ages

David Tredinnick MP suggests the NHS take up astrology and complementary medicine. Perhaps he would also like to recommend phrenology and blood-letting to really return us to those times when charlatans with no treatments that worked set themselves up as doctors.

And while we are taking a giant backward step in medicine, there might also be an opportunity for him to consider ways of turning base metals into gold so as to help the hard-pressed Chancellor.

Brian S Everitt

Professor Emeritus,  King’s College,  London

Pardons for gay men – and who else?

The aim to pardon 49,000 men from the days when homosexuality was illegal, as suggested this week in a petition presented by members of Alan Turing’s family, is not as easy as it seems.

How many of that number involved those prosecuted merely because they were partners living quiet lives in the same household and were found out only on account of evidence by, say, the cleaning woman? These would need to be separated from the blatant “cottagers”.

People should never  have been placed in a situation of embarrassment and distress when visiting a public lavatory for the express purpose for which it was intended. That applied, and should still apply, to both straight and gay men, and I speak as one of the latter.

But if we are to pardon the importuners, what of female prostitutes? Should the cases of their infinitely greater numbers be revised?

Aside from sexual matters, how do we now regard all the sad cases of those who attempted suicide before 1961, and survived to be charged with what was also a criminal offence until then?

The cliché about a can of worms comes unavoidably to mind.

Edward Thomas

Eastbourne,  East Sussex

Cars with no driver to blame

Just one more question about driverless cars: if I buy one, why would I need any car insurance at all?

If something goes wrong (with or without me inside reading a book in the back seat), it would be due to a technical problem or a faulty machine. So it’s a simple case of warranty or product liability, isn’t it?

Sonja Karl