Beyond the burkini: Muslim countries that ban the veil

Published August 30th, 2016 - 14:52 GMT

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France made headlines this week for banning the “burkini”, a Sharia-compliant swimsuit worn by practicing Muslims women while swimming in public places. Though the ban was overturned in court, France and the rest of Europe has a long and well-known history of banning “Islamic” clothing like the face veil (niqab) and burka in various locales. France has even taken steps against the headscarf (hijab) as well, which has not earned the country any friends from the Muslim community.

Naturally, stories from Europe about banning "Islamic" clothing tend to grab the world's attention and make headlines. The debacle is well-known and well-discussed the world over.

What’s perhaps lesser known, however, is that Europe is not alone in its legislation against “Islamic” clothing. In fact, some of the most guilty nations when it comes to banning these types of clothing are in the Middle East and Africa. Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, and even tiny Muslim-majority Kosovo have storied histories of maintaining a Muslim identity - but without the veil.

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Pre-revolution Egypt was a place where most women wore hijab, but those that did were banned from presenting on the State TV channel. This strange double-standard continues today, albeit less so. Many of Egypt’s upper-class restaurants and cafes do not allow hijabi women to enter, with even the burkini being banned on many of Egypt’s beaches.
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Image 1 of 9:  1 / 9Pre-revolution Egypt was a place where most women wore hijab, but those that did were banned from presenting on the State TV channel. This strange double-standard continues today, albeit less so. Many of Egypt’s upper-class restaurants and cafes do not allow hijabi women to enter, with even the burkini being banned on many of Egypt’s beaches.

(Source: AFP)

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As for the “burka” and niqab, they are not sanctioned by the government and numerous universities - including famed Islamic Al-Azhar University - have tried to ban the full-face veil on numerous occasions.
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Image 2 of 9:  2 / 9As for the “burka” and niqab, they are not sanctioned by the government and numerous universities - including famed Islamic Al-Azhar University - have tried to ban the full-face veil on numerous occasions.

(Source: Wikipedia )

Enlarge
Tunisia is one of the most anti-veil Muslim countries in the Middle East. Until the Arab Spring, a woman could be jailed for wearing a full-face veil, and hijabs were illegal in government buildings. Even though restrictions have loosened, it is still forbidden to wear a full-face veil in government buildings and many universities.
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Image 3 of 9:  3 / 9Tunisia is one of the most anti-veil Muslim countries in the Middle East. Until the Arab Spring, a woman could be jailed for wearing a full-face veil, and hijabs were illegal in government buildings. Even though restrictions have loosened, it is still forbidden to wear a full-face veil in government buildings and many universities.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
The Syrian regime banned Niqabs at universities in 2010, but after an outbreak of dissent in 2011 lifted the ban. Long has the Syrian government held fast to its secular values, and before the war actively discouraged even the wearing of the hijab. It's hard to picture in the midst of the civil war and the rise of radicalism in the nation.
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Image 4 of 9:  4 / 9The Syrian regime banned Niqabs at universities in 2010, but after an outbreak of dissent in 2011 lifted the ban. Long has the Syrian government held fast to its secular values, and before the war actively discouraged even the wearing of the hijab. It's hard to picture in the midst of the civil war and the rise of radicalism in the nation.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
The tiny European country of Kosovo is 90% Muslim. After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, the government said that secular values were to be the law of the land. In 2009, all headscarves were banned in schools amid backlash from thousands of Kosovar Muslims, and it remains illegal for a scarved woman to enter a government building.
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Image 5 of 9:  5 / 9The tiny European country of Kosovo is 90% Muslim. After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, the government said that secular values were to be the law of the land. In 2009, all headscarves were banned in schools amid backlash from thousands of Kosovar Muslims, and it remains illegal for a scarved woman to enter a government building.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Despite the current Islamist government, Turkey remains a secular state. Until 2013 it was illegal to wear a hijab on a university campus, let alone a face veil. Public institutions are still fiercely secular - for now. Last week female police officers were granted the right to wear hijab on duty for the first time in the country’s history.
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Image 6 of 9:  6 / 9Despite the current Islamist government, Turkey remains a secular state. Until 2013 it was illegal to wear a hijab on a university campus, let alone a face veil. Public institutions are still fiercely secular - for now. Last week female police officers were granted the right to wear hijab on duty for the first time in the country’s history.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Chad is a majority Muslim country who formerly allowed full-face veils, but following two deadly terrorist attacks in 2015 the government banned them altogether citing security concerns. Then Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet went as far as claiming he’d remove any burqas and niqabs in the markets of the country and burn them.
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Image 7 of 9:  7 / 9Chad is a majority Muslim country who formerly allowed full-face veils, but following two deadly terrorist attacks in 2015 the government banned them altogether citing security concerns. Then Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet went as far as claiming he’d remove any burqas and niqabs in the markets of the country and burn them.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
Malaysia has a 60% Muslim majority, and Islam is the state religion. Nevertheless, Malaysia is a multicultural nation with secular values. Though headscarves are a normal accessory for Malaysian women, the face veil is restricted, and women working in the public sector  are forbidden from niqabs and burkas.
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Image 8 of 9:  8 / 9Malaysia has a 60% Muslim majority, and Islam is the state religion. Nevertheless, Malaysia is a multicultural nation with secular values. Though headscarves are a normal accessory for Malaysian women, the face veil is restricted, and women working in the public sector are forbidden from niqabs and burkas.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge
The Moroccan government unofficially - but visibly - discourages any veiling whatsoever. Though hijabs are common in many parts of Moroccan society, public institutions distance themselves from the idea of veiling without any official ban. The police and military, however, completely forbid the headscarf.
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Image 9 of 9:  9 / 9The Moroccan government unofficially - but visibly - discourages any veiling whatsoever. Though hijabs are common in many parts of Moroccan society, public institutions distance themselves from the idea of veiling without any official ban. The police and military, however, completely forbid the headscarf.

(Source: AFP)

Enlarge

1

Pre-revolution Egypt was a place where most women wore hijab, but those that did were banned from presenting on the State TV channel. This strange double-standard continues today, albeit less so. Many of Egypt’s upper-class restaurants and cafes do not allow hijabi women to enter, with even the burkini being banned on many of Egypt’s beaches.

Image 1 of 9Pre-revolution Egypt was a place where most women wore hijab, but those that did were banned from presenting on the State TV channel. This strange double-standard continues today, albeit less so. Many of Egypt’s upper-class restaurants and cafes do not allow hijabi women to enter, with even the burkini being banned on many of Egypt’s beaches.

(Source: AFP)

2

As for the “burka” and niqab, they are not sanctioned by the government and numerous universities - including famed Islamic Al-Azhar University - have tried to ban the full-face veil on numerous occasions.

Image 2 of 9As for the “burka” and niqab, they are not sanctioned by the government and numerous universities - including famed Islamic Al-Azhar University - have tried to ban the full-face veil on numerous occasions.

(Source: Wikipedia )

3

Tunisia is one of the most anti-veil Muslim countries in the Middle East. Until the Arab Spring, a woman could be jailed for wearing a full-face veil, and hijabs were illegal in government buildings. Even though restrictions have loosened, it is still forbidden to wear a full-face veil in government buildings and many universities.

Image 3 of 9Tunisia is one of the most anti-veil Muslim countries in the Middle East. Until the Arab Spring, a woman could be jailed for wearing a full-face veil, and hijabs were illegal in government buildings. Even though restrictions have loosened, it is still forbidden to wear a full-face veil in government buildings and many universities.

(Source: AFP)

4

The Syrian regime banned Niqabs at universities in 2010, but after an outbreak of dissent in 2011 lifted the ban. Long has the Syrian government held fast to its secular values, and before the war actively discouraged even the wearing of the hijab. It's hard to picture in the midst of the civil war and the rise of radicalism in the nation.

Image 4 of 9The Syrian regime banned Niqabs at universities in 2010, but after an outbreak of dissent in 2011 lifted the ban. Long has the Syrian government held fast to its secular values, and before the war actively discouraged even the wearing of the hijab. It's hard to picture in the midst of the civil war and the rise of radicalism in the nation.

(Source: AFP)

5

The tiny European country of Kosovo is 90% Muslim. After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, the government said that secular values were to be the law of the land. In 2009, all headscarves were banned in schools amid backlash from thousands of Kosovar Muslims, and it remains illegal for a scarved woman to enter a government building.

Image 5 of 9The tiny European country of Kosovo is 90% Muslim. After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, the government said that secular values were to be the law of the land. In 2009, all headscarves were banned in schools amid backlash from thousands of Kosovar Muslims, and it remains illegal for a scarved woman to enter a government building.

(Source: AFP)

6

Despite the current Islamist government, Turkey remains a secular state. Until 2013 it was illegal to wear a hijab on a university campus, let alone a face veil. Public institutions are still fiercely secular - for now. Last week female police officers were granted the right to wear hijab on duty for the first time in the country’s history.

Image 6 of 9Despite the current Islamist government, Turkey remains a secular state. Until 2013 it was illegal to wear a hijab on a university campus, let alone a face veil. Public institutions are still fiercely secular - for now. Last week female police officers were granted the right to wear hijab on duty for the first time in the country’s history.

(Source: AFP)

7

Chad is a majority Muslim country who formerly allowed full-face veils, but following two deadly terrorist attacks in 2015 the government banned them altogether citing security concerns. Then Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet went as far as claiming he’d remove any burqas and niqabs in the markets of the country and burn them.

Image 7 of 9Chad is a majority Muslim country who formerly allowed full-face veils, but following two deadly terrorist attacks in 2015 the government banned them altogether citing security concerns. Then Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet went as far as claiming he’d remove any burqas and niqabs in the markets of the country and burn them.

(Source: AFP)

8

Malaysia has a 60% Muslim majority, and Islam is the state religion. Nevertheless, Malaysia is a multicultural nation with secular values. Though headscarves are a normal accessory for Malaysian women, the face veil is restricted, and women working in the public sector  are forbidden from niqabs and burkas.

Image 8 of 9Malaysia has a 60% Muslim majority, and Islam is the state religion. Nevertheless, Malaysia is a multicultural nation with secular values. Though headscarves are a normal accessory for Malaysian women, the face veil is restricted, and women working in the public sector are forbidden from niqabs and burkas.

(Source: AFP)

9

The Moroccan government unofficially - but visibly - discourages any veiling whatsoever. Though hijabs are common in many parts of Moroccan society, public institutions distance themselves from the idea of veiling without any official ban. The police and military, however, completely forbid the headscarf.

Image 9 of 9The Moroccan government unofficially - but visibly - discourages any veiling whatsoever. Though hijabs are common in many parts of Moroccan society, public institutions distance themselves from the idea of veiling without any official ban. The police and military, however, completely forbid the headscarf.

(Source: AFP)

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