Thursday 27 October 2016

Burkini bans are anathema to free and liberal societies

Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30

'France's bans on burkinis should be repealed immediately.' (Photo posed)
'France's bans on burkinis should be repealed immediately.' (Photo posed)

Regarding the recent reports of a riot on a Corsican beach, apparently triggered by a tourist taking a photograph of women in burkinis - when you take a photograph of someone without their consent, the image of that person is taken out of their control.

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Therefore this behaviour is a violation of the right to privacy.

It follows from the foregoing that the photographed women in burkinis were the victims here.

So when they opposed the photographing, they acted in self-defence.

Apparently, the situation got out of control and resulted in a fight.

And what is the reaction of the local French authorities?

They prohibit burkinis and thus punish the victims.

A proper action would have been to prohibit the photographing of strangers on the beach without their consent.

In addition to this, the burkini bans are a disgrace.

In a free and liberal society, the 'harm principle' applies.

According to this principle, "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" (John Stuart Mill).

When a woman wears a burkini she does not do harm to any other person.

So the burkini bans are wrong and should be repealed immediately.

Michael Pfeiffer

Neuhausen auf den Fildern, Germany


Honouring humanitarians

World Humanitarian Day is meant to commemorate the selfless sacrifices of humanitarian workers and aid volunteers in easing the anguish and anxieties of people in times of crisis.

This year witnessed terrible events. Innocents were mercilessly slaughtered, maimed, orphaned and widowed. Others were clearly traumatised by such events.

We have also watched refugees crammed into overcrowded boats heading for safe havens in Europe.

The crises in the Middle East and North Africa have adversely affected less fortunate countries such as Jordan, which have poor sanitation and weak public infrastructures.

The security threat should also never be underestimated, with potential terrorists willing to infiltrate safe countries, sow division and discord and peddle their perverted misinterpretation of religion.

This is a solemn occasion to honour those who never ceased to stand up to face perils; who were ready to combat extremist opinions that are alien to civilised societies, cultures and religions and to promote the virtues of faith.

As King Abdullah II of Jordan, a model of moderation and modernity, put it: "Achieving social cohesion, harmony, diversity, coexistence, compassion, tolerance, humanitarianism and good governance are our core duties and responsibilities."

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London NW2, UK


Ross gets the runaround

After his marathon trip to Rio, no doubt Sports Minister Shane Ross is hoping all will be sorted . . . in the long run?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Remembering a man of peace

The former Ulster Unionist MP for Londonderry, Sir Robin Chichester-Clark, who died earlier this month, should be remembered and respected for his efforts in promoting peace between all the people of Northern Ireland, and for his opposition to the imposition of direct rule in the 1970s. Bizarrely, he was suspended from the Orange Order in 1966 for attending a Requiem Mass.

As a Protestant Englishman, I hope the Emerald Island can be reunited, with everyone's affiliations and faith respected and protected, but ruled, peacefully, from Dublin.

Dominic Shelmerdine

London SW3, UK


Justice for Bethany survivors

Tom Cooper wrote another excellent letter (Irish Independent, August 16) on the injustice imposed by the Irish State on the survivors of the Bethany Home, to add to the many injustices they experienced in the home itself in the 1940s.

How many more letters do you want on this subject? Our indefatigable letter writers, like the victims themselves, need support from Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. Are our TDs and senators too busy to sort this out? It could be done in 10 minutes.

Must we leave this also to Europe?

Gerald Morgan

The Chaucer Hub, Trinity College Dublin


Why shouldn't we join Nato?

Dan O'Brien's excellent article on neutrality (Irish Independent, August 11) is to be welcomed.

However, I would question Mr O'Brien's assertion that "most are quite attached to the State's long-held position of military neutrality".

Most people don't know that Ireland is militarily neutral as opposed to neutral; there is a difference.

Contrary to popular opinion, Ireland's so-called neutrality is not a principled anti-military, anti-nuclear, anti-conscription, anti-arms trade policy, but the brainchild of one person, Sean MacBride, who allowed his anti-British prejudices to cloud his judgment.

Instead of seeing the possibility of Nato membership bringing the two islands closer and making unification less threatening, he naively thought that he could make unification a condition of membership and that the US would just bully the UK into doing so.

Mr MacBride is also responsible for us leaving the Commonwealth of Nations, a decision that drove another wedge between us and the unionists and made unification less likely.

It is easy to criticise one deluded nationalist, but it is harder to understand why his decisions have been supported without question by successive Irish governments for 65 years. The body politic simply accepts as a fact of nature, like the fact the sun rises in the east, that joining Nato and the Commonwealth is a non-runner.

Why? Why can't this be considered - when the facts show that instead of ethical principles, only naive political opportunism and deluded romantic nationalism underlies our non-membership?

Jason Fitzharris

Swords, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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