Why would you want to wear the niqab?

These letters appear in the Monday 7th issue of The Independent

Share

I enjoyed Mary Dejevsky’s observations on the European Court of Human Rights’ support for the French ban on “face-covering” in public places (3 July) and tend to agree with them.

An intriguing question is where the motivation for this unconventional choice lies. I suspect it is not to do with religion and sexual modesty, though it would be hard to prove.

When I was a teacher and rode a motorbike in the 1970s and 1980s, after a day spent in the beehive that is a comprehensive school, I relished the anonymity of shopping with a full-face helmet on. It was quite acceptable then. After a thousand reactions and responses all day, I was able to cut off, hide and relax.

In my town, Halifax, with its sizeable Muslim population, I don’t recall any niqabs prior to the events of 9/11. It is still a minority choice, but to be seen daily. This recent trend suggests a clearly political move.

I have a friend who uses her house as her niqab. The world worries and intimidates her; she rarely ventures out. Some youngsters with their hoods, mostly males, hide their faces from a world which rejects them and  where they don’t feel they fit in.

Should it be illegal? That is a tough one. But it would be interesting for face-concealers to tell us of their true motivation. 

 

Robin Barrett, Halifax

Activities should only be banned if they cause harm to others; Mary Dejevsky, however, proposes that the wearing of the niqab should be banned because it goes against social norms, or against “what it might mean to be European”.

But this is a recipe for intolerance, as well as being vague. Norms are not unchanging: for instance, gay relationships are now accepted but were not 40 years ago.

Two of the norms she cites – not throwing rubbish in the street and FGM – cause harm to others; wearing the niqab does not.

She also criticises as muddleheaded the British way of deciding piecemeal when the veil may or may not be worn. It is, in fact, a way of deciding matters, not dogmatically, but pragmatically, on a case-by-case basis. It is, I believe, the basis of Common Law.  I am glad to live in a country which decides things in this way.

John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire

 

Non-profit way to beat the superbugs

In recent days we have all become aware of the dangers posed by our over-use of antibiotics to control infection. This has allowed harmful organisms to evolve defence mechanisms against them. Consequently our antibiotics are fast becoming useless.

You would think it was the job of the phamaceutical industry to overcome this problem, but it has declined to proceed because it sees no profit there.

But there is a way around this dilemma; Cern was founded 60 years ago by 21 European nations as a non-profit scientific endeavour. We have all read of its amazing achievements, including the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson particle.

Co-operation in this scientific field has been a wonderful success. Surely now is the time for a similar body of nations, scientist and medical specialists to pool their resources and begin the search for a solution to the huge problem of runaway infections.

Peter Milner, Shrewsbury

 

Is the only area of medical research where a new financial model is needed that of antibiotics?

If the problem is that the big money comes from the pharmaceutical companies, and they feel they won’t earn enough on their investments, wouldn’t  that be even more the case for long-term chronic diseases? 

The median age for contracting type one diabetes is about 13. For the rest of their lives sufferers need to inject insulin a few times a day and to test their blood sugar levels several times a day. This is a market for insulin, insulin pens and needles, test strips and lancets. It would be financial madness for pharmaceutical companies to put money into finding a cure. Of course, by the same token it would save the NHS lots of money.

Perhaps the body looking at the funding of research into new antibiotics could cast its net wider.

Michael Godfrey, Osterley, Middlesex

 

Israel was once Arab land

Avi Lehrer takes Robert Fisk to task for implying that Israel was built on Arab land (letter, 3 July).

These are the words of the Zionist hero Moshe Dayan in 1969 (reported in Ha’aretz, 4 April 1969): “We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here.

“In considerable areas of the country we bought land from the Arabs. Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages, and I do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either...

“There is not a place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

It has been very well documented that a majority of the pioneers and leaders of Zionism considered that most of the Biblical lands belonged to the future Jewish state, and that the only effective way to achieve this was the “transfer solution”, a euphemism for the organised removal of Palestinians to neighbouring lands.

In 1917, at the time of Balfour’s promise of a Jewish homeland, the Jewish population of Palestine was only  10 per cent.

David Simmonds, Woking, Surrey

 

Schools for the greedy?

It was interesting but unsurprising to learn of the huge earnings gap between private and state pupils (report, 3 July). Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which conducted the research, declared that this is a waste of talent. Is it? This implies that earnings are seen as an indicator of capability. Might it not be that earnings are more an indicator of motivation?

Could it be that the children of wealthy parents, who can afford private schools, inherit their values, in particular their fixation with money? From my limited interaction with young state-educated adults I get the impression that they are far more interested in engaging, meaningful and ethical employment.

The Sutton Trust is pressing for greater public access to private schools. Why? Isn’t our society already plagued by obsession with money, as an indicator of status, an entrée to privilege and evidence of success? Vocational and professional commitment is slowly being stifled as we succumb to the delusion that wealth and worth are synonymous.

Gordon Watt, Reading

 

Childish gesture  by Ukip MEPs

I am extremely disappointed The Independent has continued to allow Nigel Farage a voice to express his anti-European views.

The Ukip MEPs have no intention of engaging with the work of the European Parliament. Their childish act of turning their backs at the playing of the EU anthem was disgraceful.

For five years, these MEPs will be pursuing their own agenda, so failing to contribute to the improvement of the European Union. Surely, they are failing to fully represent their constituents, and by accepting their salaries paid from public funds also taking money under false pretences.

Chloe Gover, Horton-cum-Studley, Oxfordshire

 

What does a Canadian know about cricket?

I was amused to learn that the new Canadian Governor of the Bank of England was favouring rounders over the traditional cricket match at the Bank’s summer staff party. 

I have a letter, written in 1901, from Chas Fishwick to my grandfather, James Horrocks of Bolton, Lancashire. Chas was a friend who had recently emigrated to Canada and, like my grandfather, loved cricket, and was bemoaning the fact that there was no cricket at all in Canada, just a game he called Base Ball, and that that was worse than nothing. 

He was an itinerant worker walking miles most nights by the light of the moon and stars and would also have walked many, many miles more to watch a cricket match.

So, Governor, please can you not have rounders again but have the lovely game of cricket? Bank of England and cricket: so very right for each other.

Joan Owen, Hinstock, Shropshire

 

Awaiting my tax rebate

Further to Sally Bundock’s letter of 1 July regarding her underpayment of tax of £1.81, I have had a letter from HMRC saying that I overpaid by 13p, and I assume this amount will be deducted from my next tax bill. 

However, in the event that I am too poor to pay any tax next year (a distinct possibility), will HMRC then send me a cheque for 13p? I sincerely hope so.

Carley Brown, Exeter

React Now

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

Deputy Head of Science

£36000 - £60000 per annum: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client are a we...

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A still from Central African Republic: Descent into Chaos  

Rory Peck Awards 2014 News Finalist: Pacôme Pabandji

Independent Voices
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

My limerick response to Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso

Simon Kelner
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London