Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Security Checks and the Veil

by Elliott Abrams
November 8, 2012


What happens when 21st century security requirements clash with the strictest versions of Islam which require that women keep their faces covered? In most countries, the face covering must go. In Australia last summer, for example, a news story reported that despite objections

Burqa clad Muslim women in the Australian state of New South Wales would have to remove their veils and show their faces if asked by the police or risk a jail term. The new step is being introduced in the country’s most populous state next week under which the police would be given sweeping powers to demand removal of any face covering, including helmets, masks and religious veils, for making identification.

Now it seems that the entire subject should be considered closed–for in Saudi Arabia itself the Shura Council has ruled the same way as the Aussies.

Saudi Arabian authorities have rejected a conservative proposal to allow women to keep their faces covered during security checks, local media reported on Tuesday. A draft law would have allowed women to continue wearing veils during the checks, and would have required their identity cards to be based on fingerprints instead of photographs, the Saudi Gazette said. The Shura Council, a consultative body appointed by the king, rejected the plan on Sunday, although it agreed that female security staff should carry out checks on women, the newspaper reported.

No doubt there will be further complaints and lawsuits. But now that even the Saudis have come down on the side of security the argument that Islam, even Wahhabi Islam, prevents a woman for showing her face is fatally weakened – and our common security further strengthened.

Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Neville Craig

    Good on the Aussies!

    I remember being told during one of my visits to Saudi in the 1990s that the full covering was an excellent aid to adultery.

    On the other hand, the wife of our local CEO was a blond Norwegian who would smoke in her chauffeured car and be stopped by the simpleton Mutawain/religious police…

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