Mariella Frostrup replies to a letter from a woman objecting to the restrictive attitudes of her Muslim boyfriend:
“He’s the product of a culture that has a long way to go when it comes to accepting not only the equal rights but more worryingly the basic human rights of women. No doubt this response will be met by a barrage of correspondence from intelligent, emancipated Muslim women arguing that it is possible to be liberated, equal, female and a devout Muslim. And I’m sure it is, if your husband allows it….
“When the debate about the wearing of the hijab in schools was raised I found my principles severely compromised. On the one hand I believe absolutely in the right of any individual to express their beliefs and practise their religion. On the other, if that involves a visible declaration of inequality it’s hard to reconcile that with the world I want to live in. No matter how you spin the hijab, it cannot be described as an acceptable tool in furthering equality. I fear it’s the road down which you are heading if you don’t stop believing your boyfriend’s behaviour is acceptable and yours is not.”