What is the difference between a niqab, a burka and a hijab?
MANY Muslim women around the world choose to cover their hair, head and sometimes face.
Concealment is seen as a symbol of modesty and a sign of religious faith – but some countries have banned niqabs, burkas and hijabs.
What is a niqab?
The niqab is a veil that hides the face.
It is worn with a scarf, leaving only the eyes exposed.
The covering usually goes down to the middle of the back and can extend to the middle of the chest on the front.
The niqab is mostly worn by women in Arab countries, but some Muslim women in Western countries also choose to wear it.
What is a hijab?
The word hijab describes the act of covering up and is generally used for the type of headscarf worn by Muslim women.
A hijab covers the head and neck – but leaves the face uncovered.
World Hijab Day, February 1, is an annual event that calls on people around the world, of all faiths, to wear a hijab for a day in solidarity with Muslim women who choose to live in modesty around the world. .
The event was first celebrated in 2013 and aims to “create a more peaceful world where the citizens of the world respect each other”.
The day focuses particularly on “the fight against sectarianism, discrimination and prejudice against Muslim women”.
What is a burqa?
Covering the entire face and body, the burka is the most concealing Islamic dress form.
Those who wear the burqa have their face fully covered, with a mesh fabric covering the eyes.
The mesh panel allows the wearer to see but leaves the eyes hidden.
The burqa is often associated with Afghanistan and is also often worn in West Pakistan and other countries in Central Asia.
What is a chador?
The chador is a full-length cloak designed and worn by women when they leave their homes.
A chador is usually black and those who wear one should grab the closed chador on the front as it has no clasps or fasteners.
A smaller scarf is usually worn underneath.
The garment is most often worn in Iran.
What is a khimar?
The khimar is a long veil that falls just above waist level.
It covers the wearer’s hair, neck and shoulders but leaves the face visible.
It is popular among Egyptian women.
Which countries have banned the niqab, burka and other traditional headwear?
Over the past decade, a number of European countries have joined with African countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, in banning women from wearing full face covers, often in response to a terrorist threat. increased.
Many countries have banned various forms of Islamic headgear – many over the past decade. These include:
- Sri Lanka – The country banned the burqa in 2021 following a series of suicide bombings against coordinated attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that left at least 250 dead and hundreds injured. Officials said the blankets were a “sign of religious extremism.”
- Tunisia – In 2019, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed banned the niqab in Tunisian government offices “for security reasons”.
- Austria – Burqas were banned by the government in 2017. A new ban in 2019 prevents elementary school students from wearing the niqab.
- Denmark – A law introduced in 2018 allows the police to order women to remove their veils or order them to leave public places.
- France – First European country to introduce the ban in 2010. The law prohibits the wearing of head coverings covering the face, including masks, helmets, balaclavas, niqabs, burqas and other veils covering the face in public places, except in specified circumstances.
- Belgium – A ban on covering the face, such as the niqab or the Islamic burqa, came into effect in 2011 for security reasons, to allow police to identify people. In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban on the burqa and the full Islamic veil. But from September 2021, the ban will be lifted in universities in the French-speaking Walloon region.
- Netherlands – In 2018, the Upper House of the Dutch Parliament passed a law banning face-covering veils in public spaces such as schools, hospitals, public transport and government buildings. The measure does not apply to public roads. The scarf is allowed because the face is still visible.
- Latvia – Although only 1,000 Muslim women live in Latvia and only three women in the country wear one, the government introduced a burqa ban in 2016.
- Bulgaria – Bulgaria banned the burqa in 2016, women who do not comply risk seeing their benefits reduced.
- Cameroon – The country wearing the full Islamic veil, including the burqa, in the Far North region in 2015. It came after two female suicide bombers, dressed in religious clothing, blew themselves up, killing 13 people. The governor of the predominantly Muslim region said the measure was aimed at preventing further attacks.
- Tajikistan – Legislation requiring people to “stick to traditional national clothing and culture” was introduced in the Central Asian country in 2017. Women in Tajikistan traditionally wear a headscarf tied behind their heads, rather than a headscarf. hijab, which wraps under the chin. The ban was widely viewed as an attempt to prevent women from wearing Islamic clothing.
- Chad – In 2015, Chad also banned people from wearing the full veil following two suicide attacks by the Nigerian militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The prime minister said the veil was being used as “camouflage” by militants and that security forces would burn all full face veils sold in the markets.
- Congo Brazzaville – In 2015, authorities banned people from wearing the full Islamic veil, including the niqab and burqa, in public places. They also banned Muslims in other countries from spending the night in mosques as part of measures they said were designed to counter extremism.
- Gabon – Shortly after Cameroon introduced a ban, Gabon followed suit. The country announced in 2015 that the full-face veil would not be allowed in public places and workplaces. The predominantly Christian country said it was pressured to do so because of the attacks in Cameroon.
- China – China has banned women in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, from wearing burqas and veils to “suppress religious extremism.” The move follows decades of ethnic and religious discrimination against Xinjiang’s 10 million ethically Uyghur people.
- Morocco – The authorities banned the manufacture, marketing and sale of the burqa in 2017.
- Norway – The country has banned the wearing of full veils for staff in schools and nurseries.
- Algeria – In 2018, Algerian authorities banned women from wearing the full veil, or niqab, at work, citing identifying reasons for the decision.