This carry-on about Muslim dress

Yasmin“It was refreshing to read the article by Martin Newland (G2, October 16). He is the only commentator who seems to understand that women choose to wear the Niqab as an expression of their faith and that you can still be a ‘regular person’, albeit religious.

“I am a Muslim woman, as well as a practising barrister, past Labour parliamentary candidate, human-rights adviser to the mayor of London and past worker for the UN mission in Kosovo. But I fast, give zakat (alms), have performed Haj, say the salat (prayers), do not drink, and am proud to call myself Muslim, will never wear a short dress or a bikini etc.

“At the same time, I love, like many of my Muslim friends and family, watching Carry On films, Benny Hill, Rory Bremner, Have I Got News for You, love fish and chips, and have friends from all religions, cultures and backgrounds. Go and talk to and get to know a Muslim. Then you will know they are no different to anyone else.

“I always thought the best thing about being British was that as long as you obeyed the laws, you could lead your life as you wanted. And yet we are all being pushed into one straightjacket. Just as people who want to ‘take their kit off’ have the right to do so, so should people who want to ‘keep their kit on’. This debate has already got some nasty undertones to it – and a lot of underlying ignorance.”

Yasmin Qureshi, letter in the Guardian, 18 October 2006

An excellent letter, only slightly undermined by some questionable aesthetic judgements. I mean – Benny Hill? Are you sure about that, Yasmin?