NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) As the Islamic world sees an increase in the number of women wearing the burqa, a traditional Islamic garment for covering the body in public, the dress code is banned in some African countries due to possible links to attacks terrorists.
On Wednesday June 17, Chad, a predominantly Muslim country in Central Africa, became the second country on the continent to ban women from wearing the full veil.
The government said the ban applies to all public places and ordered security forces to burn all veils sold in markets.
The decision affects the 53 percent of the population who are Muslim. Christians make up about 34% in the former French colony. France banned the face veil in public in 2010. The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban last year.
In May, Congo-Brazzaville, another former French colony, took a similar decision banning women from wearing the veil in public places. Unlike its neighbours, Congo-Brazzaville, which is predominantly Christian, has not experienced any suicide attacks.
In Chad, the ban was prompted by two suicide bomb attacks in the capital, N’Djamena, on Monday, in which more than 20 people were killed.
Chad has blamed the attacks on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, which recently turned to female suicide bombers to carry out attacks.
Prime Minister Kalzeube’ Payimi Deubet announced the ban during a meeting with religious leaders from Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches and Muslim leaders.
Wearing the burqa “is now strictly prohibited throughout the country,” Deubet told the leaders.
The ban has infuriated some Muslim leaders and scholars, who fear a ban would only escalate extremist violence.
“I would prefer to see a dialogue on the issue,” said Sheikh Hamid Byamugenzi, deputy director of the Islamic University of Kampala, Uganda.
Byamugenzi said the ban would make Muslim women feel insecure, intimidated, abused and separated.
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