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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".

Yet most disturbing of all was Ciara Simons' refusal to acknowledge that a Palestinian who blows himself up on a bus and murders Israeli civilians is a terrorist. It is simply shocking that these young women who portray themselves as being such pious individuals could fail to recognise that the mass slaughter of innocents, regardless of nationality or circumstance, is completely abhorrent. I believe that these girls need to redirect their focus from superficial displays of religiosity and instead critically evaluate how morally righteous their views really are.

Cliona Campbell, Donnybrook, Dublin

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