A decade ago, the French government passed a law which stated that Muslim women were not permitted to wear the niqab, a piece of clothing that covers the face. Ironically, in August of 2020, French authorities made it compulsory for people to start wearing a mask in various part of the country, which covers the same part of the face, due to Covid-19, whilst the niqab still remains prohibited – breaking this law is punishable with a fine and French citizenship education.
Now in 2021, in another attempt to control and suppress the Muslim women of the country, the French government has taken steps to implement a hijab ban for Muslim girls under the age of 18, without giving any clear justification behind this new bill.
The key question that arises from this is what is the true motive? How can a piece of clothing, which resembles the veil worn by Catholic nuns, and the tichel worn by Orthodox Jewish women, possibly cause so much concern for the French Senate that they deem it necessary to implement such extreme laws?
The French government appears to be targeting Muslim women as a way of controlling and suppressing this minority community – it is important to raise awareness of this situation and to fully address the injustice happening as a result of Islamophobia.
Vaccine risk comparisons
Comparing the low risk of thromboembolic complications after the Astra Zeneca vaccine with the higher risk of death from Covid-19 is somewhat irrelevant, as we do not have to choose. Both risks can be minimised. A number of countries have decided not to use the AstraZeneca vaccine below a certain age, as the risk of thromboembolism may be greater.
Arguing about risk minimising, on the basis that the contraceptive pill is associated with an even greater risk of blood clot disorder, is also misleading. The contraceptive pill would be prescribed after a consultation in which alternative contraception methods are discussed and information is given about possible risks. The presence of risk factors for venous or arterial thromboembolism (including older age) would be considered as contraindications to hormonal contraception.
Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi
When London teenager Richard Okorogheye went missing at the end of March his distraught mother went to the police for help and was cruelly rebuffed: “I told a police officer that my son was missing, please can you help me find him and she said ‘if you can’t find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you?’”
Two weeks days later came the terrible news that a body matching Richard’s description had been found in Epping Forest.
We will never know if Richard’s life could have been saved if the police had taken his disappearance more seriously.
The government shouldn’t be making statements like “Institutional racism doesn’t exist in the UK”.
Getting Brexit done
Twenty-three years ago I welcomed the Good Friday Agreement, particularly the principle of equal respect of all traditions and that any change to the constitution of Northern Ireland had to be approved by all communities. The protest over the last few nights, partly related to Brexit, did not surprise me as peace was only possible because of the single market that removed the border.
Brexit and the return of a border may not be the sole motivation of the people attacking the police; feeling ignored, being poor with little hope of change could also have played a part leading them to despair. It was irresponsible of Sinn Fein and showed poor leadership on Covid-19 for senior members to attend an IRA funeral illegal under Covid-19 regulations, and it was wrong of the Police Service of Northern Ireland not to prosecute those who broke those regulations in the same way as they might prosecute young loyalists who breach these regulations.
Could I suggest that Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill, finance minister Conor Murphy and other senior party members who broke the regulations show real leadership and report themselves to PSNI for breach of Covid-19 regulations, accept their punishment and show all, including young loyalists, that everyone is equal under the law and law and politics provides the best way forward?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also has a responsibility to sort out the problems his desperation to become PM and then to get Brexit done has caused, and start looking at rejoining the European Customs Union or the single market, removing any need for a border. I’m sure the UK fishing industry, farmers and small exporters would also welcome the removal of unnecessary borders and getting business back to normal.
The most exciting news of the coming days? Hairdressers will reopen on 12 April.
I wonder what the conversation starters will be now, since the favourite opening line, “Are you going anywhere nice for your holidays?” is sadly so irrelevant.
Perhaps, “Have you had your vaccine yet?”, “What background do you use for your Zoom calls?” or “Have you bought any new houseplants recently?” will top the icebreaker questions.
I think we need an intensive Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine marketing and advertising campaign or we run the risk of people not taking up their jab.
With the stats massively favouring vaccination we need to get this message across to the public. The blood clotting risk if you get the AZ jab is 0.0004 per cent. The risks to us after we have contracted Covid, however, are significantly higher: clotting on the lungs 7.8 per cent, clotting in the legs 11.2 per cent, strokes occur in 1.2 per cent of cases, even more common is the lowering of the platelet count in 30 per cent of cases.
Of course, we also have the 150,000 deaths and many others have to deal with long Covid. So we should be able to use this data to convince younger people to get vaccinated. I don’t often agree with Jeremy Hunt but he was right when he said on Channel 4 news that “no medicine is 100 per cent immune to side-effects”.
Bearer of good news
I read Andrew Grice’s column (The vaccine isn’t the route to normality the PM promised) with interest. I too watched the Easter Monday briefing and I agree that Boris Johnson was opaque and many of his assertions were caveated. Of course one might say Boris Johnson has woken up and smelt the coffee and is hesitant about overpromising and then subsequently having to backtrack ignominiously.
He is though still in thrall to his gung-ho libertarian backbenchers who demand that life returns to normal at the speed of light. Admittedly, this is a delicate balancing act with the vaccine rollout hitting a not unusual “bump in the road” but with the perilous situation in Europe, Johnson can for once see the writing on the wall that mass opening up could indeed lead to a further Covid-19 wave in the summer. But interpreting that message into a balanced “wait and see” modus operandi before going full steam ahead is seemingly beyond his natural default mechanism of wanting and desperate to be the bearer of good news, which in itself is an inherent fault in any prime minister and especially in these still dangerous pandemic times.
Judith A Daniels