Another African country bans women from Islamic veils over terrorist attacks

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Young Muslim women participate in a dress choice protest in Nairobi in March 2015. Religious Information Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) As the Islamic world experiences an increase in the number of women wearing the burqa, a traditional Islamic garment to cover 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 nation 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 ruling affects the 53 percent of the population who are Muslims. Christians make up about 34 percent in the former French colony. France banned the wearing of the veil in public in 2010. The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban last year.

In May, Congo-Brazzaville, another former French colony, made a similar decision banning women from wearing the veil in public places. Unlike its neighbors, the predominantly Christian Congo-Brazzaville has not experienced any suicide bombings.

In Chad, the ban was triggered by two suicide attacks on Monday in the capital, N’Djamena, in which more than 20 people were killed.

Chad blamed the attacks on northern Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which recently turned to female suicide bombers to carry out the attacks.

Prime Minister Kalzeube ‘Payimi Deubet announced the ban during a meeting with religious leaders from Catholic and Evangelical churches and Muslim leaders.

Wearing the burqa “is now strictly prohibited throughout the country,” Deubet told leaders.

The ban has infuriated some Muslim leaders and academics, who fear that a ban will only add to extremist violence.

“I would prefer to see a dialogue on the issue,” said Sheikh Hamid Byamugenzi, deputy director of Islamic University in Kampala, Uganda.

Byamugenzi said the ban would make Muslim women feel insecure, intimidated, abused and isolated.

LM / MG FIN NZWILI


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