With a new law, the French salvaged an aspect of Western civilization.
The law prohibits “concealment of the face in public, especially by wearing a full body covering” (“dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public, en particulier par la pratique du port du voile intégral”). In other words, it does not explicitly mention the Islamist gear known as niqab (which covers a woman’s body except for the eyes) and burqa (covers the entire body).
Clever. But “concealment of the face” takes place routinely. Large, dark sunglasses hide the eyes. Surgical face masks (worn to fend off contagious diseases) cover the nose and mouth. Fire-retardant hoods obscure the neck, ears, and hair. Worn together, sunglasses, mask, and hood, such as sported by actress Faye Dunaway last year at LAX, might be illegal under the new French law, even though it is not a problem.
One can discern plenty about Ms. Dunaway, including her gender, her approximate age, and what she is carrying. She looks odd but does not threaten fellow passengers.
Niqabs and burqas, in contrast, are not veils but head-to-toe coverings that envelope the entire person. They routinely present security challenges by hiding males, guns, and bombs. They cause Vitamin D deficiency in women and breast-fed children. They obstruct communication, disrupt family life, dehumanize women, and undermine individualism.
Legislation should focus on full-body coverings; these cultural atrocities must be banned everywhere.
— Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.