Senegal debates banning full veil to stop terrorists disguised in Islamic dress

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Faced with the rise of Boko Haram in west Africa, Senegal is contemplating joining the Republic of the Congo, Chad, and Cameroon in outlawing the traditional garment worn by some Muslim women, plus the following the arrest of four imams accused of having ties to Boko Haram terrorist group. Senegal is considering a nationwide ban on burqas, amid rising fears of Islamic extremism in the West African country.

Interior Minister Abdoulaye Daouda said that he would uphold an order to ban women from wearing burqas through which only their eyes can be seen in the predominantly Muslim country, according to the Guardian. Mr. Daouda said the move would be a question of national security and would be designed to prevent extremists from using the garment to hide their identities.

“The burqa is not a matter of religion … When the full veil is a security problem, all Senegalese should support the president in this regard. We will surely [move] towards banning full veil and we will work for this decision to be followed up,” Daouda said on Senegal’s RFM radio station.

In recent years, Senegal has faced growing fears of violence from Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group based in West Africa that has wrecked havoc in Nigeria and its northern neighbors. The possibility of banning the burqa has stirred debate in country where 94 percent of the population is Muslim.

“Its imposition in Senegal will cause social instability … there is a delicate line between preventive measures and respect for individual freedoms,” said Khadim Mbacke, a Dakar-based researcher told the Guardian.