Thank goodness for the end of the burkini ban, but what about forms of dress really associated with oppression?

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Sunday 28 August 2016 17:57 BST

Whilst the French court’s decision to suspend the burkini ban is heartening, the underlying issues are far more serious.

The burkini would not have looked out of place on a European beach little over a century ago during the belle époque. Indeed, the burkini is an Islamic response accepting to a degree the modern world.

Whether other forms of Islamic women's dress are compatible with our values is, however, rather more open to question. The burka, the hijab and the niqab all have their origins in the pre-Islamic ancient Middle East of misogyny, violence and slaving.

We take it for granted that other cultural manifestations with unsavoury associations are unacceptable: for example, black and white minstrel shows, actors blacking up, the stars and bars flag and anything associated with national socialism or the third Reich are all considered beyond the pale.

And yet despite the fate of the Chibok school girls – who were sold into slavery by their captors – and the genocidal slaving practised on the Yazidi women and children in Syria, no question is raised about forms of dress associated with cultures of gendered violence (including female genital mutilation and so-called honour killings), homophobia and indeed slavery.

Rather than using state power to coerce women to dress as we would prefer, we should take the liberal path and summon the courage to debate and expose the flaws in reactionary belief systems.

Otto Inglis Edinburgh

The medical condition of Donald Trump

It took Donald Trump’s doctor just five minutes to declare him fit to be President and Commander in Chief of the United States of America. I imagine any other doctor, randomly picked from the Yellow Pages, would, in even less time, have come instantly to the opposite conclusion: “Histrionic personality disorder” (excessive attention-seeking) among a bundle of other disqualifying characteristics.

Donald Zec London

Messages for the new Prime Minister

“A newly-born government must dazzle and astonish.” Napoleon Bonaparte. Any chance, Ms May?

Mike Bor London

Perhaps Ms May ought to be reminded that the last person who attempted to rule without Parliament (“Theresa May ‘acting like Tudor monarch’ over plans to deny parliament Brexit vote,” Saturday) was Charles I who lost his head (literally) as a result in 1649. This was followed by a good 10 years of dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell.

Rosemary Morlin Oxford

Brexit need not happen

Of course leaving the European Union is not inevitable (“Gus O’Donnell angers Eurosceptics by suggesting Brexit is not inevitable,” Saturday). The UK voted to leave the EU by 52 per cent to 48 per cent. The referendum was an advisory straw poll – a snapshot of public opinion. It was not a first-past-the-post election. The Government must take both sides into account when deciding about our future relationship with the EU. I would be happy if we stayed firmly inside the EU.

Bill Chapman

The small majority for leaving was only achieved with promises of funding arrangements which have now been abandoned. A further consultation based on reality is thoroughly justified.

Mike Brown

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