Skewed view of Islam and women's rights

Every other day we come across news items and discussions over the social media owed to skewed understanding of Islam. They range from women’s clothing to female imams to their space at the mosque! A recent news item on the BBC website by Sophia Smith Galer is an example wherein the inadequate space for women at mosques is discussed.

Spaces for women in mosques, certainly in our mosque Baitul Futuh, which is mentioned in the piece, is an administrative decision rather than a ‘mind-set’. It is based on the current Covid restrictions where, women, children and the elderly do not attend the mosque and men also attend in a very limited capacity. Once Covid is over, you are welcome to come and see that women’s prayer hall in Baitul Futuh is exactly the same size as men’s.

I really wish people would engage in meaningful discourses, but they also need a lesson of history. Islam was not only the ‘first’ to give women their rights but it did so without a single woman having to protest or chain herself in public, as it did happen in the Europe not so long ago.

Indeed the teachings of Islam protect women at so many levels, only if those commenting could study Islam first, because if they did, such issues would become irrelevant.

Arfa Ahmad

Lynmouth Road


Shameful cuts to UK foreign aid programme

It's Local Election Day on May 6, but my thoughts are for the moment on things overseas, in lands much poorer than ours, where people (usually women and children) walk to collect water from often polluted sources, in doing so bringing home preventable sickness to family members.

I once worked proudly with our Government’s Aid programme to help communities build systems to end this most pitiful of poverty.

The Johnson Government’s decision to cut by 80 per cent the finance it directs to this need is to my mind not only deeply shameful but also self-defeating.

It is by helping with this most basic of needs that children can be freed to go to school, adults to participate in productive activities, and lives freed from sickness.

This morning on Radio 4 I hear of the cuts also to education for girls in the developing World, with a direct impact on them and the size of the families they will have if they are forced out of school.

Surely its time to be proud of ourselves as a nation again and do the right thing and see our politicians restore our previous Aid Assistance as a pathfinder for the developed nations helping the less developed.

Here at home we can do our bit by supporting Christian Aid Week this week, or by supporting Chippenham’s own water charity Wellboring, but we can also write to our MPs and tell them to do the right thing.

Dr Brian Mathew

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for North Wiltshire

& Wiltshire Councillor