Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2212

Women leading an anti-war protest in Manchester in 2006. Muslim women played a vital part in the anti-war movement - whatever they were wearing  (Pic: Smallman )

Women leading an anti-war protest in Manchester in 2006. Muslim women played a vital part in the anti-war movement - whatever they were wearing  (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Banning the veil is the opposite of liberating

I feel compelled to write to Socialist Worker after the French ruling on banning the Muslim veil.

I’m relieved that you covered the issue ( French veil vote will boost Islamophobia , 24 July) because there appears to be some confusion about what the ban means. Some people support it because they think it’s about liberating women.

It is not.

The ban is an attack on a tiny minority of people to whip up Islamophobia and sow divisions between ordinary people.

It encourages non-Muslims to see Muslims as a threat – rather than allies to unite with.

Where you stand on the ban isn’t an abstract question. The ban will give confidence to racists.

The liberals and those on the left who support a ban need to get a grip on reality. It’s wrong to say that banning the veil will liberate women.Liberation means self-emancipation – it can’t be imposed by force.

We should not assume that if a woman wears the veil, it is because her father or husband is demanding that she does so.

Lots of Muslim women don’t wear it, and it is patronising to assume that those who do are incapable of making a choice for themselves.

We can’t define an entire group of people based on the rantings of the Daily Mail newspaper and the British National Party.

I am for a solidarity day where we all wear the veil to show that not everyone in Britain swallows Islamophobic propaganda.

Socialists have to show solidarity with oppressed groups rather than lining up with those who attack them.

Liz Kitching, Leeds

Women’s liberation is not about what a male‑dominated parliament feels about an item of clothing a woman wears.

It is about women having the right to decide whether to wear a face veil or any other item of clothing.

The argument that says a ban on the veil is liberating carries about as much weight as it does when the racist English Defence League brandish the slogan on placards.

The ban will alienate minority groups by criminalising them for what they wear, rather than celebrating, understanding and embracing diversity.

Banning the veil will not stop women being portrayed as sex objects or being more likely to have to work part-time jobs. It will not raise rape convictions or lead to more women in parliament.

Women’s liberation can only come from working class women and men uniting and fighting back together against a sexist system.

Julie Filer, Manchester

Tragedy of Raoul Moat case

Thank you for your excellent article by Simon Basketter on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and Tom Walker’s spot-on column about Raoul Moat (Shoot to kill in Stockwell , 24 July).

Without condoning what Moat did, it’s not too difficult to imagine how one disappointment after another can build up to exploding point – especially if a person has asked for help and been denied it.

At that point it’s usually those closest to a person who tend to bear the full brunt of their frustration, pain and anger.

I have two sons of similar ages to Raoul and Angus Moat.

With fewer jobs and cuts in spending on education, there’ll be more young people feeling abandoned, frustrated, hopeless and thrown on the scrapheap before they’ve even left school.

Knowing that north east England, where Raoul Moat lived, has suffered more job losses and more underfunding than any other area, it’s surprising that there aren’t more similar cases.

And the cuts in public services announced by Cameron and his Con-Dems will inevitably mean further reductions in already cash-strapped psychiatric services.

Dyana Rodriguez, Hereford

I agree with much of what Tom Walker says in his article about Raoul Moat.

If your GP recommends that you speak to a community mental health counsellor, it can take up to three months for them to make an appointment with you because of underfunding.

If you’re feeling suicidal – or homicidal – you want help immediately!

One thing Tom did not mention was the number of BNP sympathisers who commented on the Moat sympathy site, which I found disturbing.

This outbreak of hysteria should not be seen as some kind of anti-police movement that we should support.

Rather, we should use this tragic episode to highlight the effects of Cameron’s cuts.

Andrew Burnyeat, Brighton

A glimpse into Gove’s ghastly schools future

Let me take you on a walk through our cities in a few years time if education secretary Michael Gove gets his way.

In the leafy suburbs, straw-hatted Hetties and Aggies, Gideons and Jareds are spilling from gleaming 4x4s into shiny new “just for the posh” academies.

Down the road, sink schools gather the rest, crumbling as the ghost of Building Schools for the Future fades into the morning mist and that rotting window frame on the second floor crashes down on Sean Jones from 9B.

Remember when you walked past urban-blighted rows of empty shops and charity stores bemoaning the decline of the High Street? No more.

Eager Toby Young lookalikes have long since ripped down the shutters to create classrooms from the smouldering relic of Lennie Dean’s sweetshop.

If you think free schools are just too wild, ill-researched and fantastical to work, think again.

We are just starting to gather the first evidence of the effects of free schools in Sweden.

Research concludes that the free schools experiment risks increasing racial and social segregation. Add class to that judgement and you have a pretty conclusive verdict on the direction of the Tory “reforms”.

We are at a crossroads.

It is urgent we defend state education.

Alan Gibbons, Children’s author

Take the fight to Cable at the TUC

David Cameron has extricated himself from being held to account at this year’s Trade Union Congress. Instead he is sending his message boy Vince Cable.

Regardless of the wisdom of the TUC general council inviting members of a government that is attacking the poorest people in society, trade unionists now have to hold Cable to account.

During the election campaign, the Lib Dems portrayed themselves as being committed to widening participation in post-16 education and opposing tuition fees.

Two months later and we are seeing the reality behind the rhetoric.

Colleges and universities are facing savage cuts.

Cable says post-16 education will contract.

He is proposing a regressive graduate tax, utilitarian two year degrees and massive privatisation.

This is a betrayal of everything the Lib Dems promised before they got the keys to the ministerial cars.

It is an unprecedented onslaught on education. Students, lecturers and support staff and all trade unionists must challenge it.

Sasha Callaghan, Fife

Don’t cut the flowers, Dave

The house of Commons has announced that it is cutting about £6,000 from its budget for floral displays and gardening.

What a great way to set an example of how to make sacrifices, you may think.

But it still expects to pay more than £115,000 in the next year on flowers and gardens – or more than £300 a day.

Crisis, what crisis?

Helen Leaper, Wolverhampton

Queen is no anti-fascist

The Queen withdrew an invite to Nazi Nick Griffin from the British National Party to a garden party last week.

She was going against family tradition.

King Edward VIII hoped Hitler would win the war and make him dictator of Britain.

The queen’s mother sent a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf to a friend, saying, “Even a skip through gives you a good idea of his obvious sincerity.”

I am sure that the foul racist would have been in good company if he had gone to Buckingham Palace last week.

Simon Greenwood, Leicester

No one should pay for Trident

So, the Tories are arguing about whether the treasury or the ministry of defence should foot the bill to replace the Trident nuclear missile system.

One simple solution would make this argument obsolete and end the risk of a dangerous split in the government.

Nobody should be paying to replace dangerous weapons.

Scrap Trident!

Margaret Lemon, East London

Tory threat to flood defence

Flash floods caused havoc in Britain last week.

More than 500,000 homes across the country are at significant risk of flooding.

Yet the Tories want to cut £713 million from the annual flood defence bill – and one way to do it is to sell the defence network to private firms.

Privatisation of flood defences would make people more vulnerable to flooding.

Letty Rawlings, Hull

Black: one law for the rich...

The release of Conrad Black shows the farce that is “justice” under capitalism.

Black was jailed for six and a half years in 2007 for fraud and obstructing justice.

He spent his time “inside” in a minimum security jail. And now he’s out again.

Justice for the rich means something very different than it does for the rest of us.

Katie McDaid, Forfar

Not a hero for shooting cop

Your article on Jean Charles de Menezes (Shoot to kill in Stockwell , 24 July) mentioned the fact that a “Geordie bouncer” could also be a victim of the police.

Was this a comment about wife beater Raoul Moat? Has Socialist Worker gone mad?

Shooting a random police officer doesn’t make him a hero.

Richard Peacock, by email

In defence of Steven Rose

Two letters in Socialist Worker (Letters, 24 July) attacked Steven Rose’s article on neuroscience – and both were unfair!

Katie James criticises his alleged failure to “embrace better medical care”.

But while noting the potential gains, Rose is surely right to point out the possible pitfalls.

Anna Lansley suggests that because Rose points out the social influences on medical conditions he somehow suggests they are not “real”.

But Alzheimer’s disease is greatly affected by social interaction. This doesn’t mean Alzheimer’s isn’t a real condition.

Let’s have a serious discussion about Rose’s views, not distortion.

Bethan Jenkins, West London

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Article information

Tue 27 Jul 2010, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2212
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