Monday 23 October 2017

Shocked by views of niqab muslims

Sir -- Joanna Kiernan's article 'Eastern Promises' (Life, January 16), in which she interviewed three young Muslim women, was truly eye-opening for me as a fellow 20-year-old Irish female.

A concept that was reiterated throughout the feature was that the Islamic headscarf served the purpose of providing 'protection'. As a young woman born and raised in a liberal and egalitarian society, I have always understood it as being the role of the authorities and the public as a whole to protect females from molestation. It seems simply perverse that the responsibility for sexual harassment from men should fall upon women, who would consequently share the blame for the crimes of others.

Maryam Ali was vehement in her view that the niqab should not be banned because "the government should never have the right to tell people what they can and cannot wear". Yet it was with wry irony that I noted how the headscarf Ms Ali was wearing was from Kuwait; a country that issued an edict in 2009 forcing all women to don the headscarf, or risk facing a heavy fine and the wrath of vigilante groups. While Ms Ali acknowledges that the world is not black and white, this begs the question as to why shrouding one's body should be seen as the only alternative to having their "boobs out" and "arse hanging out".

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