Letters: The Burqa

Women should be free to wear the Muslim burqa

Related Topics

I write further to the recent comments made by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, regarding the wearing of a veil and burqa by Muslim women.

His comments are extremely unhelpful, coming from the Head of State of a country in which there are around 5 million Muslims. They directly contradict comments made by President Barack Obama recently: "It is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism."

It appears that this is exactly what President Sarkozy is doing. Moreover, his views on the burqa are factually wrong. The burqa is an item of religious dress which many Muslim women choose to wear. However no Muslim woman should be forced to wear it because a fundamental teaching of Islam is that "there shall be no compulsion in religion".

France should adopt the policy of Britain, which is not to interfere in an individual's personal matters . Muslims in Britain are extremely fortunate that they can practice their religion freely – a right which is not even enjoyed in some so-called Muslim states.

There is no punishment in Islam for not wearing the veil yet here a so-called enlightened state is attempting to punish its citizens for the clothing they wear. What a tragedy.

Farooq Aftab

London NW3

I concur with M Sarkozy and Sophie Morris (24 June); the sight of a woman in a burqa simply gives me the creeps and I suspect most Sixties feminists would have a similar reaction. Furthermore I would maintain that it is an essential part of western civilisation that an individual should at all times show their face or be judged a criminal or an outcast.

However I remember that some 30 years ago I was pinched on my bare upper arm by a woman in a rural village in Egypt. She was affronted by the bare flesh I had on display. Would westerners therefore be prepared to cover up in Islamic and other countries where a display of legs and arms and bosoms and hair is unwelcome?

Certainly some Brits are culpable of gross misconduct and insensitivity, but the burqa is a horror and should be banished from our streets.

P A Mackay

Wantage, Oxfordshire

King of Pop's reign was already over

Even though Michael Jackson had 50 sell-out concerts booked at London's O2, his time at the top had been and gone. Ticket-holders for his concerts probably consist of life-long loyal fans, the curious, and those as desperate to recapture their youth as Jacko himself was. I fail to understand why the media is devoting so much airtime and print to the once "King of Pop".

There's no doubt that he was a hugely influential star in the 1980s and early 90s, but for the last 10 years he had been more like a king in exile. His contribution to pop music deserves to be recognised, but the tributes are getting out of all proportion to his achievements.

I disagree with those who say that his legacy will be his music. Regardless of how many millions of records he sells in death, it won't be to the teen market. Much of his music was of its time. I believe his legacy will be to provide a lesson as to what happens when people have enough money to surround themselves with sycophants and divorce themselves from reality.

Alan Aitchison

Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Michael Jackson did more than "clutch his crotch and twizzle to the beat" as Peggy Kay suggests (letter, 29 June). He broke 13 Guinness world records, contributed to 39 charities and won 19 Grammys.

I can agree with some aspects of the "bizarre and sad life" view: his constant need to redefine his face to the point where he became unrecognisable. Why? Maybe he never thought that he was good enough to be accepted, who knows? None of us who did not know him personally can ever really know the person he truly was.

His lifestyle was eccentric, true, his own home like a fairground. Very probably he simply wanted to create some fun and freedom in his life, and the lives of other children too, denied in his own restricted upbringing. He was basically a young boy stuck in a grown man's body and needed professional psychiatric help, as would anyone who had his kind of childhood.

I will for ever remember Michael Jackson for his moonwalk, the charity work he did and the fact that he was an extremely talented musician who wrote almost all of his songs. He deserves our respect, and may he rest in peace.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

I am led to believe that I will be refunded for the Michael Jackson tickets that I purchased. But for each of the four £75 tickets that I bought from the O2 there was a £9 service charge. I had not been sent my tickets yet, only a confirmation email. I certainly don't think this email was worth £36 in "services" and sincerely hope that the O2 do include this charge in their rebates

I believe that the service charge added to ticket sales needs an overhaul, as it is just a way for venues to make more money. If not, what is to stop my milkman charging a service charge, or shops adding a fee for getting something off a shelf and passing it to the customer?

Julian Sutton

Richmond, Surrey

What does it say about our culture when a quality newspaper feels it must publish no fewer than four obligatory letters (29 June) complaining about media coverage of Michael Jackson's death? One would have done: surely there is a form letter for this kind of thing.

Peter McKenna


Conflict in Iran and in Israel

Robert Fisk's comparison of the revolt in Iran and the Israel-Palestinian conflict is disingenuous (23 June). Whereas debate and opposition are stifled and crushed in theocratic Iran, in democratic Israel, citizens are empowered to speak their mind.

In the territories under Palestinian control, Israel acts only when there is violence directed at its citizens. A better comparison would be Hamas-controlled Gaza, where the authorities regularly stifle their fellow Palestinians who support Fatah.

The Iranian mullahs who are beating their own people in the streets also fund the likes of the suicide bombers and rocket launchers of Hamas and Hizbollah. So the only thing that the Iranian situation has in common with Israel is that a free Iran would bode well for both countries.

Michael Dickson


BNP left to express people's unease

Your correspondents misunderstand a key reason for the rise of the BNP (letters, 26 June). Apparently immigration from the Normans, Romans, Danes all contribute to our great mix of races so we should all accept of mass immigration now. Hold on a moment. The infusion of other races and tribes into this country would have been greatly resisted at the time, before life settled down once more.

Now we have mass immigration, there is once more mistrust and misunderstanding of different races. That is natural, and has happened throughout time. What is unnatural, is there isn't now proper conduit to express that unease. The BNP has seen this gap and taken it on. The main parties have to allow people to express unease, and encourage integration, instead of brushing the issue under the carpet.

Graham Howson


Getting noticed in a wheelchair

I can add to Simon Icke's experiences of people's reactions to a wheelchair (letter, 15 June). My mobility scooter, which is quite nippy, attracts admiring comments from all ages, and many people would like to have a go themselves. My party piece, however, is to use a stick which opens into a tripod seat; I get lots of interest from older people who would like a sit-down.

My independence is somehow visible with these gadgets. When using a wheelchair, I make eye contact and speak to people more, so they have to notice the wheelchair user. I think it would be a good idea for everybody to have a go at both pushing and being pushed in a wheelchair.

Pat Williams

Faringdon, Oxfordshire

On the road to climate chaos

Michael McCarthy's articles on the climate crisis and the worldwide destruction of biodiversity have made an important contribution to raising awareness of these issues in the UK. This makes it doubling perplexing to read (23 June) that he drove 722 miles from his west London home to see three rare butterflies. By choosing to travel by car he emitted 259kg of CO2. Wikipedia states that the annual per-capita emissions in Bangladesh are 250kg.

If we environmentalists are not putting our own houses in order, what hope is there for the billions who have not Michael's level of awareness of the urgency of the catastrophes bearing down not only on us but on the innocent Bangladeshis on the front line of the drowning seas?

Donnachadh McCarthy

London SE5

The prejudices of the past

David Usborne's review of the latest release of the Nixon tapes (June 25) makes a perfectly valid point in that the former President's views on "modern society" were not, well, modern. Indeed so, this befitting a man born into relative poverty in 1913 in a shabby part of small-town California, replete with all the received prejudices from that era.

As an avid reader of published diaries, I can testify that it is rare not to have occasionally winced when chancing upon some remark or phrase that would never pass muster in today's offend-nobody society; that is their delight. What is wrong is to assume that our present-day beliefs will not receive similar maulings in 40 or 50 years' time. Each generation manages to embarrass its successors.

John Axon

Petts Wood, Kent

Ordinary MPs

Some MPs are defending their right to have second jobs on the grounds that it keeps them in touch with real life. But what are these second jobs? Almost all seem to be consultancies or directorships. These are hardly typical of the everyday jobs that most people do to earn their living. I would be more impressed about the value of the experience of external jobs if these MPs undertook such tasks as cleaning moats, installing bathrooms or gardening.

Paul Burall

King's Lynn, Norfolk


From the lyrics of Florence and the Machine's "Kiss with a Fist": "You hit me once/ I hit you back/ You gave a kick/ I gave a slap . . .A kick in the teeth is good for some / A kiss with a fist is better than none.". This is "emphatically" not about domestic violence according to Tim Walker (Independent Magazine, 27 June). Regardless of what the "silly rhyme" meant to the 18-year-old composer, I suspect some may get the impression it is about domestic violence.

David Boardman

Hebden Bridge, west Yorkshire

Doorstep chuggers

I have read the recent coverage about chuggers. I live in Islington – and do not have to leave my house to be accosted by them. I have received three visits from chuggers representing the same charity in the past four days. I have complained to the charity because in my view this verges on harassment. I support a number of charities via CAF online – a simple, tax-efficient way of making donations that does not involve revealing bank-account details to strangers who arrive on one's doorstep – but I shall never make a donation to this charity.

Rita Hale

London N1

Flooded out

The 25th of June was the second anniversary of the terrible flooding of Hull, Doncaster and Sheffield – with all the destruction and loss of lives and livelihoods caused. Coincidentally, that week was also the first of Gordon Brown's premiership. What a chance he missed! How the north of England, that day, needed a hands-on Prime Minister, visiting the affected communities and offering them immediate compensation and rehousing, no strings attached. Two years later, I wonder: was that first challenge for Gordon totally beyond him?

Godfrey H Holmes


No medals

Liz Finlay (letter, 26 June) objects to "medal" as a verb. Perhaps she has never milked a cow; she has, probably, booked a holiday, dreamed a dream; she may have cycled to work, even booted a ball into the net. All nouns used as verbs. What's the problem?

Fred Sedgwick


Any noun can be verbed.

Michael A Isserlis

Northwich, Cheshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Monday - Israel  

Between the wars in Israel, spending time in a kibbutz was about as cool as you could get

Peter Popham

Man Booker Prize: Great books and great authors are sometimes missed out by awards committees

Natalie Haynes
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game