Muslim women’s garb controversial

This is in response to your editorial concerning female Muslim clothing (“Why is Muslim women’s clothing an issue in Europe?” May 13).

On a recent weekend, I was at my cousin’s graduation at the University of Massachusetts and noticed a family with women and a young girl dressed in full-body covering abayas.

It was extremely hot in the gymnasium and it was quite apparent that the women and the young girl were suffering. Needless to say, the men seemed very comfortable in their Western clothing.

Also, the last time I was at Maine Medical Center, the cleaning lady wore very bulky clothing that continually swept the floors and walls as she cleaned inside the room and the bathroom. How hygienic is that?

Finally, all young girls should be exposed to exercise including bicycling, running, swimming, etc. Wearing an abaya or a burka limits
movement and is dangerous.

I believe that welcoming diversity should not include the condoning of oppressive traditions.

Lega S. Medcalf

We see the ways other countries are dealing with Islamic clothing for women: laws, restrictions, regulations on the wearing of Islamic garments.

You want to go to public school in France? Better leave the scarf at home. But what is the real issue here?

Freedom is the foundation of our country. But it can sometimes be difficult to discern the exercising of free will, from just plain
brain-washing. Sure, Muslim women should be free to cover up, but let’s figure out the reasoning behind it.

Are women in Islam respected? Or are they unfairly restricted ? Modesty plays a large role in Islam. Both women and men are expected to be reserved; to not play into the idea of “showing yourself off.”

But why is it that only the women must cover up completely; their hair and sometimes their entire bodies? Seems that the real idea has been lost.

Is the idea to disgrace women of their own bodies, to create shame, to keep women down? Or is is a case of religion misunderstood?

I ask, is the real intent of covering up to honor yourself, or to honor someone else’s orders?

Unlike parts of Europe, we must step back and deal with the larger issue. I do not believe that the answer is creating more restrictions;
that’s the exact issue we are questioning in the first place.

In a country where so much of the positive cultural differences have been lost, the United States can alternatively provide an opportunity
too moderate strict interpretation or traditions in cultures and religions.

The issue at hand is not simply about clothing or to reveal or not reveal a woman’s body; it is much more profound and deep-rooted.
Equality is what we are shooting for, and awareness and reflection are the answers.

Olivia Chance
Cape Elizabeth


Sen. Collins only defending
Second Amendment rights

As the former commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, I know Mainers appreciate our state’s hunting heritage and its long tradition of responsible firearm ownership.

So I have to believe that I was not the only one to scratch his head in disbelief when I read a couple of recent lettrs essentially claiming that Sen. Susan Collins wanted terrorists to be able to buy guns.

This is what Sen. Collins actually said: “None of us wants a terrorist to be able to purchase a gun. But neither should we want to infringe upon a constitutional right of law-abiding Americans.”

What she’s saying is before we take away any American’s constitutional rights, we need to be pretty darn sure that the information we’re using to make that decision is accurate.

Unfortunately, the watch list is not foolproof. It has had some pretty big mix-ups in the past. Sen. Collins cited a 2009 audit by the Inspector General’s Office that found watch lists can be inaccurate, incomplete and outdated. In a sample, some 35 percent of people listed were there because of outdated information or material unrelated to terrorism.

In other words, as Sen. Collins noted, the watch list is not a criminal history report. It can be wrong.

Before we use the watch list to deny any American his or her constitutional rights, let’s be absolutely certain that the information we’re using is correct. I agree with Sen. Collins. Let’s keep guns away from terrorists. But neither she nor I want to see my rights – or yours – taken away because of a bureaucratic error.

William J. Vail

Sen. Susan Collins’ opposition to a bill that would prohibit those on the FBI no-fly watch list to buy firearms elicited several negative comments in the Press Herald on May 13.

I say bravo Sen. Collins! What is appalling to me is any senator or representative in Congress who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States would support a bill to strip citizens of their rights based on a mere accusation.

The no-fly list is just that, not a “convicted criminal” list. Just a few minutes worth of Internet research on “no-fly lists” turns up thousands of complaints, chief among them how inaccurate the lists are. There are stories of 8-year-olds traveling with their families denied boarding at the airport because their name or a similar one is on some mysterious government list. The late Sen. Edward Kennedy was on that same list, by the way. Would you have denied him the right to purchase a firearm?

One letter writer compared this measure to the limits we place on those with a felony conviction when it comes to firearms. However, supporters of this measure fail to mention that convicted felons have had their day in court.

They have had legal representation, and have been allowed to present evidence in their defense in front of a judge or a jury of their peers. These government lists offer no such due process.

One more thing: Despite what some think, there is no such thing as the “right to fly.”

Rob Austin

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