Boris, burkas, niqabs and symbols


Sir, – Apropos of Kathy Sheridan’s column (“Imagine if Boris Johnson is right about the burqa?”, Opinion, August 15th), may I make a distinction? As a legitimate government-imposed order in a democracy, banning the niqab is not an insult; lampooning it is! – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Sir, – While I fully condemn the outrageous and insulting language that Boris Johnson employed in referring to burqa-wearing women, I nevertheless believe that there should be a complete ban on the wearing of clothing and items in public that display any religion. That would apply to the wearing of all religious signs by both all lay and religious persons (priests, rabbis, imams, etc.) and include items such as crosses, priest collars, stars of David, skull caps, Sikh turbans, hijabs, etc.

By all means people can of course wear whatever religious signs they wish to in the privacy of their homes, in their indoor places of worship, at funerals, etc.

But in general I object to people presuming that they have a moral or social right to visibly introduce in public into my presence a symbol of the religion that they revere, in the same way that I would object to people displaying in public their political allegiances. I simply do not wish to have this information repeatedly thrust into my consciousness in public places. – Yours, etc,


Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Sir, – Well said, Kathy Sheridan (Opinion, August 15th).

Boris Johnson writes an inflammatory personal opinion column in a British newspaper. What happens? A major spike in sales (online and offline) for the newspaper concerned. Excellent headline opportunities for the rest of the press who can legitimately report on the news of his bad behaviour. The Muslim community up in arms as their religious practices have been insulted publicly by a member of the British government.

A cast-iron example of racism has been endorsed by a British newspaper.

If Boris Johnson had started a conversation about whether anyone should be allowed in the public space with their full face covered – by a balaclava, a ski mask or a burqa – then the public could have engaged with him in a grown-up debate.

It might not have made for such juicy headlines and media sales but the mature discourse would have been a pleasure to witness. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.