The North African nation of Tunisia has banned Muslim women from wearing the niqab — an oppressive veil that covers a woman’s entire face, save for her eyes — in public buildings.
Technically, the ban signed into law by Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed applies to “any person with an undisclosed face,” according to a source that spoke with Reuters.
It’s been presumed however that the law’s primarily aimed at Muslims, as it’s been Muslims — some of them adorned in niqabs — who’ve been responsible for a spate of recent terror attacks.
“The decision follows a suicide bombing in Tunis by a wanted militant. Witnesses said the suicide bomber, who blew himself up on Tuesday, was disguised in a niqab,” Reuters notes.
“It was the third such incident within a week and came as Tunisia prepares for autumn elections and at the peak of a tourist season in which the country hopes to draw record numbers of visitors. Islamic State has claimed all three attacks.”
#Tunisia-following June 27 twin suicide bombing in #Tunis police was on the hunt for another militant, Ayman al-Sumairi. Yesterday they closed in on him in Intilaka as he was in a niqab, he detonated a suicide vest and caused no other casualties. This pile is what’s left of him. pic.twitter.com/G8GfzYzLSC
— Oded Berkowitz (@Oded121351) July 3, 2019
One of the previous two attacks occurred during the last week of June.
“Two suicide bombers struck security forces in quick succession on Thursday morning in the Tunisian capital, killing at least one police officer and wounding at least eight other people,” The New York Times reported.
“It was the second suicide assault on the streets of Tunis in nine months, stoking worries of renewed instability in a country that emerged as a rare democratic success after the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.”
Prior to these twin bombings, an unemployed, radicalized “female graduate” named Mouna Guebla, 30, reportedly wounded nine people by detonating explosives on her body last October.
But instead of investigating the roots of her radicalism and questioning her family, the international media responded to the terror attack by seemingly trying to gin up sympathy for her family:
Take note of the hijabs being worn by the women and girls.
Reuters notes that prior to 2011, Tunisians were banned from wearing the hijab and niqab because of former Tunisian leader Habib Bourguiba, who led the country from 1957 to 1987, and former Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Both were secularists against all forms of Islamic clothing.
It was after Ali was usurped from power and the nation’s bans on the hijab and niqab rolled back in 2011 that terrorism began to take root in the North African nation. This isn’t to suggest the two events are linked but rather to highlight the coincidental timing.
“Tunisia has been battling militant groups operating in remote areas near its border with Algeria since an uprising overthrew Ben Ali in 2011,” Reuters reports.
The situation has apparently grown so dire — what with the spate of recent, back-to-back terror attacks — that even the country’s human rights authorities back the ban.
“We are for the freedom to dress (as one pleases), but today with the current situation and the terrorist threats in Tunisia and across the region we find justifications for this decision,” Jamel Msallem, the president of the Tunisian Human Rights League, said to AFP.
That’s a stunning statement given that human rights authorities tend to almost always respond to such bans by crying foul and complaining of civil right violations.
It happened last month after the Canadian province of Quebec passed a ban on publicly worn face coverings. It happened earlier this year after Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena banned face coverings in public. And it happened last year after France instituted on a ban on full-body Islamic garb.
In the case of the ban signed into law by Chahed, authorities with the Tunisian Human Rights League are OK with it so long as it’s eventually repealed as “a normal security situation returns in Tunisia.”
It’s unclear whether that’ll ever happen, though, given that the previous repeal of such bans coincided with the emergence of Islamic terrorism.
None of this is to say that the ban doesn’t have its detractors — because it does:
— Muhammad Abbas Khan (@AbbasKhanPK) July 6, 2019
Just to be clear, Tunisia is and has technically been an Islamic country since 2011, in that Islam is the state religion and 98 percent of the population Is Muslim.
This raises an interesting question: Why is it OK for an Islamic country to ban the wearing of Islamic garb in public, but it’s not OK for non-Islamic countries to do the same?
Well I never. Tunisia, a country with Islam as its official state religion, bans niqab in public institutions after three terror attacks in a week https://t.co/btYT7K6lJu But those calling for such a ban here are ‘racist,’ Yeah, right…
— Suzanne Evans (@SuzanneEvans1) July 6, 2019
The push to reinstitute the bans reportedly began following a rash of “major” terror attacks in 2015 and 2016. In one 2015 attack, the Bardo National Museum attack, three Islamic terrorists used guns to kill 21 people. In another attack later that year, 38 people were killed after an armed gunman opened fire at two hotels. The following year, a Tunisian soldier was reportedly killed at his home during a shooting by an Islamic terrorist.
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