Just saw, on the Agence France Press website, what promises to be the most incredible story of the month, if not the entire year. After considerable debate, a national government has banned the importation and sale of burqas. Completely. In their entire country. For those who don't know what a burqa is, it's the ultra-Islamic garment for women that covers the entire body, from the top of the head right down to the ground. That includes the face, only a small "window" being left (albeit screened) so the wearer can see where she (or he) is going.
The country is... this is the incredible part... Morocco! Morocco has a population of nearly 34 million people, almost as big as Canada. 99% of Moroccans are Muslims, unlike Canada where only 98% are Muslims. [Ed., please check those numbers.] So why, you may ask, would the government of a predominantly Muslim country risk offending so many voters by proscribing the ultimate Islamic fashions? Walt will explain.
First of all, Morocco is a monarchy, and elections are not quite as free and fair as they are in, say, Cook County IL. Secondly, in Muslim countries, freedom of religion and freedom of expression aren't guaranteed by law. Quite the opposite, in fact. Thirdly, and most important, the Moroccan government is worried about security. It's that "she (or he)" in the first paragraph that prompted the burqa ban.
You can't tell what's under the damn things. It could be a sultry voluptuous Muslim woman, like the ones you see in the streets of Kabul every day. Or it could be a Mohammed with a beard and an AK-47. Or either of them, with half a dozen sticks of dynamite strapped to his/her torso. See "A good reason to ban the burqa", WWW 4/11/13.
The AFP story quotes a spokesthingy for the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior as saying "We have taken the step of completely banning the import, manufacture and marketing of this garment in all the cities and towns of the kingdom, since bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes." ("Bandits" is Arabic for "terrorists".)
In fact, not that many Moroccan women wear the burqa. Most of them prefer the hijab, a headscarf that doesn't cover the face. The niqab, which leaves the area around the eyes uncovered, is worn in Salafist circles and in more conservative regions in the north, from where 1000s of jihadists have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. A Salafist preacher condemned "the Satan-worshippers" and "atheists serving the interests of the Jews" who, he said, were behind the burqa ban.
So there you have it. A 99% Muslim country bans the burqa to deter "bandits" or "terrorists" or whatever you want to call them. What are the chances of that happening in North America? In the USA (as of January 21st), chances are slim. In Justin Trudeau's Not-so-Great, Not-so-white North (see previous post), the chances are... none at all.
Further reading: Still not sure about the difference between the burqa, the niqab and the hijab? Read "Hijab, niqab, burqa -- what's the difference?", [Great title! Ed.] WWW 28/7/10.