Morocco Bans The Burqa

Morocco, one of the major allies of the USA and the West in the MENA region, has banned the wearing, the manufacturing or marketing of burkas (full veil), according to local media.

While there was no official announcement by authorities in the North African nation, the reports said the interior ministry order would take effect this week.

"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", a Moroccan senior interior official said, Le360 reported, according to a translation by the Independent.

Unnamed government officials disclosed that the move necessitated for security reasons, saying that criminals have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes.

Letters announcing the ban were sent out to market vendors earlier this week, with businessmen given just 48 hours to get rid of their stock.

The ban only applies to the "full face covering" burqas and not the hair-covering headscarves that the majority of Muslim women in the country.

Security authorities are reportedly also concerned with the use of the burqa to commit terrorism.

But lawmaker Nouzha Skalli, a former family and social development minister, heralded the ban as "an important step in the fight against religious extremism".

Relatively few Moroccan women wear the burqa, which is much more common in conservative Muslim societies like Afghanistan and Pakistan, but many do wear traditional dresses and head scarves.

The burqa remains an extremely marginal phenomenon in Morocco, a country torn between modernity and conservatism, whose king, Mohammed VI, is the champion of the so-called "moderate Islam". Chad, Switzerland and Egypt are other countries with partial bans on the face veils.

Social Media users in Morocco were divided between proponents of the decision and opponents who see the wearing of the burqa as a personal freedom.

The ban has received various responses from the Moroccan people.

Hammad Kabbadj, a preacher whose candidacy for parliamentary election was rejected because of his alleged extremist views, also denounced the ban.

  • Rogelio Becker