HOW can a bill which seeks to restrict the freedom to follow religious traditions, particularly with reference to clothing, be referred to as a religious freedom bill? (Spain moves towards burqa controls. Majorca Daily Bulletin 16 June)
When I lived in Algeria my female students, most of whom dressed like European girls, were leered at and molested in the busy city streets and on crowded public transport, by unemployed youths, who had nothing better to do. Their mothers also followed European fashion, but wore Islamic garments over their normal clothes when they went out, so as not to be bothered by unwelcome attention. According to our cleaning lady most women dressed like this, not because anyone had obliged them to do so, but because they felt more comfortable with at least part of their face and the rest of their body covered up. Like my grandmother when she went to the seaside, although admittedly she only covered herself from the neck downwards.
Surely in this troubled world we should be doing all we can to reduce the tensions caused by the current clashes of civilisations and religions. A move to dictate what Muslim women can and cannot wear, does not help and takes us back to the dark days of Franco, before the hard fought battle for religious freedom was won.