National Security & Defense

ISIS Imposes a Partial Ban on Burqas

Before getting to the news item at hand, a personal preface:

I am frustrated that Westerners don’t perceive the obvious point that burqas and niqabs, both of which cover not only the head but the whole body, threaten public security. A person wearing these Islamic garments can be male or female, can carry an assault rifle, and can usually get away with anything anonymously.

I expected that my compilation of burqa- and niqab-assisted crimes and acts of political violence going back nearly fifteen years and now about 150 incidents long, would convince any sensible observer of the public security problem; all the more so because the assaults included child abduction and rape, the murder of police officers, and other outrages; and because banks and other institutions have noted the problem and in many cases banned these and many lesser coverings.

But no, whether it be an intellectual like Martha Nussbaum, a journalist like Joel Mathis, or the many, many voices opining on the recent burkini ban from French beaches, security issues inspire a collective shrug, with almost everyone focused instead on the symbolism of these two garments, whether it be concerning the welcoming of the other, the inhibition of social interaction, or the status of women.

While sensible to these concerns, I fail to see how one can legally ban an article of clothing because it bothers one’s sensibilities. As I like to put it, bad taste is a human right; you can wear a green-and-pink plaid jacket and I have no right to forbid it because it happens to offend me; likewise for the burqa and niqab. I can only ban those if they pose a danger, which they do.

So much for the West. Now to the news item, which concerns the Islamic State, that bastion of burqas, where women can be flogged for not wearing one; Iran Front Page translated a Persian-language item from Al-Alam News Network, an Iranian regime news agency:

A local source in the Iraqi province of Nineveh announced on Friday, September 2, that the [ISIS] terrorist group has released an order, based on which no woman is allowed to be wearing niqab or burqa when entering the security and military centres. The decision, according to the source, came after some fully veiled women killed a number of ISIS commanders and members in the past months.

The first irony about this: The ISIS rulers first require the burqa and then, realizing what a perfect cover it provides to attack themselves, ban it from sensitive areas. Should attacks on them continue, perhaps ISIS will have to ban the burqa from all public places, which would be quite a change.

Second, the most retrograde, extreme, and morbid Islamist regime on earth recognizes burqas as a danger to public security while the modern, moderate, and democratic states in the West remain clueless.

Finally, despite my frustration on this issue, I do believe it’s just a matter of more assaults and more time before Westerners wake up to this problem. But how many more must be gratuitously robbed, raped, and killed before that happens? 

Daniel Pipes — Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. A former official in the U.S. departments of State and Defense, he has taught history at Chicago, Harvard, and Pepperdine universities, ...

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