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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Kofi Annan was a force for peace in a violent world

Our readers have their say on Vajpayee, the niqab and the former UN secretary general

Two candles burns in front of portrait from former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, during a ceremony of UN staff to pay tribute at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Salvatore Di Nolfi / EPA
Two candles burns in front of portrait from former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, during a ceremony of UN staff to pay tribute at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Salvatore Di Nolfi / EPA

I write in reference to your article Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan dies at 80 (August 19): the article was sad to read. As the first black African to serve as the secretary-general of the United Nations, Annan oversaw many reforms. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and his Kofi Annan Foundation continues to do a wonderful job in fostering Africa’s agriculture sector. He was also a vocal advocate for peace.

His death is a great loss to the world, especially in all those areas that are blighted by conflict. May his soul rest in peace.

K Ragavan, Bangalaru

Debates over the niqab do a disservice to the Islamic faith

In response to your letter There’s the rub: conscience won’t make cowards of us (August 7), I strongly disagree with the notion that the niqab or burqa represent Islam. Far from it, Islam enjoins modesty in every aspect of human dress and conduct and it applies equally to both men and women.

Modes of dress are primarily rooted in culture, not religion. The all-enveloping burqa, for instance, is essentially a South Asian symbol. Covering the face is actually prohibited during the Hajj rituals at the holy Kaaba and all pilgrims travel on passports carrying photographs as identification. In Muslim countries, including the UAE, women’s attire is Islamic, modest and dignified without needing the face to be covered. (Exceptions are rare and for personal reasons.) A Christian nun’s habit is another example of modest dress. I do not believe countries banning face coverings are attacking Islam. For ease of identification and security requirements, the face should never be covered. Raising non-issues unnecessarily in the name of Islam is doing a disservice to the pristine faith.

Mohammad Hamza, Dubai

Vajpayee wove India together with charm and poetry

In reference to your article Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee dies at age 93 (August 16), the former prime minister led by consensus and discussion. His three tenures as prime minister were calm and amiable and he was liked by people from all religion and communities. In fact, Vajpayee wove India together with his charm and poetry. He was never flamboyant or egoistic. Indeed, during the last few years, he had withdrawn from public life and hardly commented on politics. His party, which has been in power since 2014, has not exactly followed in his footsteps. There has been unnecessary polarisation in the country and law and order has declined. The economic lot of the common man has not resulted in improvements, despite the drumbeat of scintillating growth digits. Vajpayee’s wisdom and sagacity will be missed in India.

Rajendra Aneja, Dubai

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