When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked earlier this month if burqas should be banned, the billionaire real-estate magnate didn’t hesitate to take sides. “Yes. I’m OK with that,” he told Boston Herald Radio, referring to the restrictive full-body and face veil worn by ultra-austere Muslim women.
In the United States and Europe, the debate over how much of a woman’s body should be covered tends to focus on issues about gender equality and public contact. Should an ultra-austere Muslim woman, for example, be given special allowance to wear a mask when others would be prohibited from doing the same? Is a woman covering her face and body by personal religious choice or is she being compelled by parents, brothers or a husband to do so?
But increasingly questions are being raised about security concerns in sub-Saharan Africa where Boko Haram, the radical Islamist militant group operating out of northern Nigeria, has conducted numerous terrorist operations. In some cases burqas have been used by suicide bombers to infiltrate crowded places, not just in African states but also Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.