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Question Time



Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
What you've said
Find out what you had to say about Question Time on Thursday, 5 October, 2006 from Bournemouth.

The topics discussed were:

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Straw veil comments

Audience questions: Is Jack Straw right to ask Muslim women to remove their veil?

You said:

If you wear a hoodie you can be refused entry, if you wear a hat you can be asked to remove it. If you wear a mask (veil) and are asked to remove it, it becomes a question on Question Time. If we live in a foreign country we have to abide by their rules. It's time that we stood up for our rules and stopped all this political correctness.
Sue Rudling, Reading

I would not wish to speak to someone whose face I could not see. How can you assess their reactions if you can't see their face? On many occasions their expression gives their true feeling, not what they say. I think Jack Straw deserved far more support than he got from the wimps on the panel. If he is speaking to someone, he has every right to feel comfortable. Some Muslim women are foced to wear the veil and surely it is the duty of those who chose to wear it to respect the wishes of the person they have requested to speak to. Another point is that if we visited an Islamic country we are expected to respect their culture. This goes both ways.
Annette Shaw, Hamilton

I would not ask people to remove their tongue rings or to cover their swastika tattoos before seeing them in my clinic. Muslim or otherwise, they are to be represented by Mr Straw (whose wages they pay) in whatever dress they like. If Mr Straw does not like that, perhaps he should step down and do another job.
Dr Mughal, Cardiff

We should emphasise our similarities rather than our differences. Wear your veils, wear your crosses, wear your skull caps, wear painful spikey things in your legs but give everyone a break and don't wear your prejudice. If we're going to be ultra PC, presumably we should now ban David Blunkett from his constituency surgery because he can't see people's faces.
Karen Redman, Bournemouth >

Muslims are being persecuted, murdered, victimised in this country and all over the world and after listening to some of the comments tonight the West still see themselves as the victims. Have some shame and face up to your hypocricy and double standards

Text: Straw is right for once.
Jack, Manchester

How refreshing to hear Jack Straw raise the issue of hiding one's face. The British tradition is to be open and allow others to see facial expression and reaction. It's what we expect of ourselves and others. It does not create barriers. The argument is not over dress but over seeing who you are involved with.
A. Moss, Stockport

Muslims and others who come to live in this country do so knowing of its western culture and values. If those values are not acceptable, then perhaps the wrong choice was made? Certainly we cannot have westerners having to accept Islamic values when living in the Middle East and still having to accept those values when Muslims come to live in western societies.
Arthur Wheeler, Guernsey

Text: The controversy over Jack Straw shows that he's soon for the Lords, re-election no longer a worry.
Paul, Bentley

Why is it unreasonable to expect Muslim women to reveal their faces, but it is acceptable to insist that no "hoodies" are allowed in shopping malls? In modern Britain there is a lack of trust which leads us all to prefer to see the faces of everyone around us. If a new religion was started that required the congregation to walk around naked would this have to be allowed, or would common sense prevail? Let's make sure we have the same rules for all British people, not try to appeal to minorities to avoid potential conflict.
Phil Gower, Brackley

I am disgusted that women protecting their modesty has become an issue. When this is balanced against the opposite end of the spectrum it becomes increasingly alarming. Young girls wearing very short skirts to school and women wearing very provocative clothing on nights out is not seen as something bad. Yet when a women wants to be modest this is seen as a negative thing. Many people in this country have got an upside down moralistic view point. If a women wants to cover herself - as she does not want men leering at her - this is her choice, just as much as it is the choice of women to wear next to nothing. The problem is that the one being modest is a Muslim, so obviously, it is something else to fear from this "alien inside"!
Isa Cole, Preston

Veils intimidating? Did anyone ask skinheads, punks etc to stop looking so offensive and intimidating? Get over it!
Aaron, London

Jack Straw's comments are understandable. A hidden face conceals true and positive identity and has wider implications for ID on CCTV etc. It is no different to wearing a ski mask in a raid or a hooded top in a shopping centre. The effect of all such gear is anonymity.
Brian Richards, Runcorn

Who is Jack Straw to make comments like so. Is he going to tell us that Sikhs are not allowed to wear turbans next?
Alia Riaz, glasgow

I agree with Jack Straw. While Islam requires muslim women to wear the Hijab, it does not require them to wear the veil or Khimar or Burqa'. As a muslim I do not like it when I see muslim women wearing the veil and totally covering their faces. However, these comments by Jack Straw will only cause muslim women to become more attached to their veil and also Hijab. So what is next, a law just like in France? I believe the more muslims and Islam are criticised, muslims feel isolated and so they become closer to their religion because they feel targeted.
Naser , Reading

With greatest respect, and as a non-Muslim myself, I would like to indicate that in Western society, the covered face has a rather sinister connotation ie highwaymen and cowboy robbers. Of course, this has no relevance to the Muslim veil, but I would like to see these sort of issues openly discussed and indeed for Muslim women to be able to state their own perceptions, which might include a degree of discomfort amid the lack of modesty in Western society. We need to talk all this through in order to understand each other better.
Sylvia Gill, Oxford

I understand that this is not a requirement of the Muslim religion but merely a symbol of male dominance over women.
Mike, Camberley

I am sick and tired of people thinking that our husbands or brothers are the ones that MAKE us wear the head scarf or veil - it is not they that make us do anything. People speak about Muslim women as though they have no brain to think for themselves. We are independent thinking human beings and the only reason we wear what we wear is out of faith in our religion. No man dictates to me or my friends, the majority of them had to actually fight with their husbands because they themselves wanted to cover and their husbands did not. I find it hard to talk to women who have almost everything on show but I do not ask her to cover herself because I am finding it hard to hold a conversation with her.
Samia Nisar, Middlesex

Well done to Jack Straw, he has said what thousands of people in Britain are thinking. I feel exactly like him, it's more of a fashion statement than an ideology. These people have to realise they live in Britain, this is a Christian country and maybe we are too tolerant towards different faiths.
Anne McGuinness, Middlesbrough

I find it disgraceful and greatly worrying that on a BBC news programme they discuss Muslims having the right to wear, or not wear their religious dress, yet the presenter cannot wear hers! What is the BBC and this country coming to when we are ashamed of our own beliefs and identity?
Stuart Atkinson, Durham

Text: Jack Straw is right, you need to see people's faces, not just eyes.
Dot, Hendon

Text: Why do we have to get Muslim council approval for anything we do in our own country?
Kev, Soton

In Leeds we are not allowed to go into most restaurants, bars, clubs, etc with any head gear for security reasons. Recently my friend who wore a head scarf due to hair loss from chemotherapy was asked to remove it. Does this also apply to women who wear veils because of their religious beliefs?
Margaret Winters, Leeds

A Christian country? Only 7% of the UK population attend church on a regular basis - it is a nonsense to say that the UK is a christian country!
Andrew Pickett, Bournemouth

Text: The veil is not compulsory in Islam, purely cultural, and a sign of male domination.
Gretta, Birmingham

Text: God did not create a woman to wear a bag over her head.
Geoff, Worsley

Muslim police officer

Audience question: Is it right that a police officer should be allowed to choose whether or not to guard an embassy?

You said:

What about the firemen recently who were disciplined for refusing to hand out leaflets at a gay march? The police officer should also be disciplined for failing to carry out his duty.
Charles Varley, Gourock

So, it seems police officers can pick and choose where they work. In 1946, did policemen refuse to guard the German Embassy or even the Japanese embassy? Did police refuse to control picket lines during the miners strike because they had relatives working down the pits.? The man to whom this story relates should seriously consider his position.
Nigel Hawley, Ventnor,IOW

I am a serving police officer with Strathclyde Police and I believe that it is a worry that when the police service is already stretched, a fellow officer can choose on religious or for any other grounds, what duties they attend. The police service is a ranked structure so that orders and directions will be met. Any prejudices that any officer may harbour should be left at home so that he or she can serve the community with the utmost integrity and impartiality. Sectarianism is a problem in the west of Scotland, would it then be acceptable for a protestant officer not to attend an incident regarding a Catholic?
Nick, Glasgow

The Police Officer was very much right to be taken away from hostile duties, people don't understand that it would cause danger not only to him but the building and the public - someone could attack the embassy and harm the public. Well done to the officer and those who decided to move him.
Vish, London

Text: What if a Christian policeman refused to protect Muslims? This country has gone mad.
John, Bishop Auckland

In 21 years , serving for the RUC and PSNI I have never heard of any of my colleagues of any religion asking to be removed from a position due to their religion. Police officers of all persuasions stood together and risked their lives together to serve both communities at risk to themselves and their families. I think she has done Catholic officers a disservice by her comments and should either evidence it or apoligise.
Nigel Moore, belfast

I am a Police Inspector with more than 30 years service. This month I have let one of my Muslim Officers change his shifts to meet his personal requirements of Ramadan. Two other Muslim officers were happy to continue with their rostered shifts. There is absolutely no detriment to the duties being performed by that officer and had I needed him to perform the original shifts he would have done so. Should I have said 'No' to this reasonable request? I was treating an individual fairly to his needs/preferences without any detriment to his colleagues or the job.
Anonymous, London

Going back to Northern Ireland before the ceasefire, I am sure that the very small minority of Catholic police officers in the Northern Ireland Police Service were "protected" from retaliation against their families by not posting them to "sensitive" areas and duties. The same consideration was correctly granted to this Muslim police officer in the diplomatic protection group.
Trevor A Smith, Sidmouth

Turn this question around and imagine the outcry if a Christian, Jewish, athiest, Sikh or any other denomination of officer refused to carry out their duties to protect members of the Muslim community. Public servents should leave their beliefs at home and serve all the community.
Harry Starkey, Leek, Staffordshire

Text: Could a Tory officer refuse to police the Labour conference because of their views?
Grant, Chesterfield

Text: It's unbelievable. A copper should follow orders. If they can't, they shouldn't join up.
Kevin, Perth

Text: The police officer's superiors should not have put him in the situation in the first place.
Dave, Hull

Text: Would the Israelis feel safe being guarded by a men whose heart is not in it?
Keith, Bury

Text: Where would we be if Irish police had refused to guard the British Embassy during the Troubles?
Pat, Belfast

David Cameron

Audience question: David Cameron has said he would keep the minimum wage, protect the NHS and is against tax cuts. Is he leading the wrong party?

You said:

Text: I'm changing my mind about the Tory party.
Michael, Bracknell

Text: Cameron and the Tories are trying anything to appeal to the masses.
Alan, Wirral

David Cameron and the Conservative party are blatantly adjusting policy to court public opinion. The race is on to be elected and in power rather than to lead the country forward in the way most beneficial to the population - Christian or Muslim.
Ceri Jones, Cardiff

Text: Blair is the best Tory PM since Maggie.
Barry, Cheshire

Text: I'm a Tory. I reject carpetbagger Cameron and his liberal cronies.
Morris, Chigwell

Text: Cameron is Blair in disguise. I've never seen them together.
Stan, Morley

Text: The Conservative shadow front bench are all chameleons, at least Blair sticks to his guns.
SA, Wirral

I think that David Cameron is leading the right party into the changes that it has to make to take on Labour in the next general election. He has accepted that the Conservative Party has to change with the country, and the world that is changing around it. I agree with what Oliver Letwin and Sandra Howard both said on the subject of the party. They have to be admired for saying that changes have to be made and are being made by their new leader.
Steve Fuller, Hove, East Sussex

A lot of criticism for David Cameron repackaging. So what! Good luck to him and the Conservatives, it's about time. I'd rather have a repackaged Conservative government than seven more years of mismanagement.
Tim Smith, Lincoln

Text: If the Tories got back in, the middle and lower classes would be doomed!
Chegs, Warrington

Text: Cameron's move to the left will leave a big gap on the right for the BNP to fill.
Jon, Bucks

North Korea

Audience question: Following an announcement that it plans to test a nuclear bomb, how do the panel think the international community should respond to the threat posed by North Korea?

You said:

Britain has a nuclear deterrent. If that deterrent is effective we should not need to worry about North Korea or Iran. If it's not effective then there's no point in keeping it and we should lead by example and scrap it.
Richard Porter, Maidenhead

What right does Britain have to tell the world who can or cannot have nuclear weapons or power? We are just another nation, who don't own the patent on these WMD's - so why are we always the ones with the US to say who can have them?
Mark Devin, Exmouth

The reason why we need to invade Iran is because oil is going to run out by 2025. It is the same reason we invaded Iraq and not North Korea. Iran has no right to have either nuclear power or the nuclear bomb. One is effectively the same as the other. Once you have a civil nuclear reactor it is only a few stages to making weapons grade plutonium. All of your panel should study nuclear technology. This technology is also very difficult to properly regulate or control. I think the USA should invade Iran as soon as possible to stop this from happening!
John Clarkson, Camborne

Text: There's a world of difference between dictatorships and democracies having nuclear weapons.
Ian, Lancs

Text: North Korea is a major threat to the safety of the world. They must be stopped.
David, Devon

Text: Their delivery system is comical. They're a long way from being any threat and just want to be noticed.
John, Hove

Text: North Korea is flat broke. The chances of a nuclear strike are tiny.
Perry, Norfolk

Text: Isn't it nice that the one country to have used nuclear weapons wants to stop everyone else having them?
Paul, Reading

Text: The US won't attack Korea as they can defend themselves.

Text: The most dangerous country with nuclear weapons is the USA.
Bri, Corsham

Text: Whatever the US decide to do, we should do the opposite.
J Lambert, London


Audience questions: What restrictions should be imposed on immigrants coming from the EU?

You said:

We have many Eastern Europeans in Herefordshire and south Shropshire working in the soft fruit and potato industry, working shifts and being paid for what they pick. What concerns me is that an area like this does not have the infrastructure to look after these people. They live in "shanty" towns near the farms, and as we have poor public transport they have little chance to visit the towns such as Hereford and Leominster, hence they remain isolated and do not integrate. The local GPs and hospitals are already overstretched as are the schools without the additional problems these people bring to the area. Surely we have duty to look after these people, but we must find a way to regulate the numbers as we now seem to be creating an underclass who are being exploited by the farmers/potato barons in this area, and they will feel alienated from the rest of British society.
C S Boardman, Ludlow

The creation of the EU was to ensure freedom of movement within its borders and the freedom of labour. This means that when the new members joined in 2004, the UK and Ireland and Sweden (the only countries to not place working limits) were the only EU members staying true to the EU purpose. I hope that the government does not pander to the reactionary right who for either xenophobic/racist or protectionist views do not want these hard working immigrants showing the lazy millions in this country how to do some graft.
James Collister, Wirral

Text: What about jobs? People that are from the UK can't get a job because they are taking all the jobs!
MR, London

Boris Johnson

Audience questions: How do you solve a problem like Boris?

You said:

Text: Boris is a waddling haystack.
Sam, Woking

Boris should be invited to next week's show to explain why being Scottish should exclude anyone from being elected PM.
Jim Mclean, Glasgow

Text: Boris rocks! And so does his bike!
James, Belfast

Text: Boris for PM!
Emma, Blackpool

Leave Boris alone, he's great.
Terry, Basingstoke

General comments

You said:

Oliver Letwin is not the cleverest man in politics. Tony Blair wins on that score hands down. Why? Because since 1995 a Tory has been leader of the Labour Party and no one except me has noticed.
Edward Hyslop, Manchester

Really enjoyed QT tonight. Hazel Blears became human by the end; Shirley Williams wasn't as batty as she normally is; Oliver Letwin spoke a lot of sense about the NHS; Sandra Howard - lovely and nervous and Ian Hislop (although he didn't like the comparison to Boris Johnson) was forthright and amusing (as always).
Madeleine, Guernsey

Text: How did Michael Howard get off with such a cracker? There's hope for us all.
Tony, Epsom

Text: Fragrant Sandra seems to be floating above the riff-raff on the panel.
David, Cambridgeshire

I thought that Sandra Howard was very impressive - she is not a career politician, she does not have all the facts and figures available to her, she is the former Tory leader's wife and is in an impossible situation! Many congratulations!
Alex Shepherd, London

Text: I'm a little concerned that Oliver has donned a hair-piece.
James, Sheffield

Text: Hislop makes a refreshing change. He talks sense. Bring him back.
Kevin, Bolton

Text: Go Shirley. Best Liberal since Cyril Smith.
Ian, Dundee

Text: Shirley is the only one who talks any sense.
Doreen, Huddersfield

Text: Ian for the next PM.
Jeff, Liverpool

Ian Hislop was fantastic as ever and crystallised the similarities between New Tory and New Labour. The disparate treatment of Iraq over North Korea is the biggest incentive for Iran to develop their own weapons. Any military action will be a massive failure of international intuitions. Nice to see Sandra Howard on, she's terribly sweet but woefully out of her depth.
Chris Doll, New York

Why does Ian hang on the fence all the time? Where does he stand? He leaves me totally confused as to which team he belongs to.
Madeline Shore,

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Watch Question Time from Bournemouth

This Week's Panel
05 Oct 06 |  Question Time
Send your questions for Oliver Letwin
05 Oct 06 |  Question Time
Jack Straw Q & A
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