The New Year calls for New Resolutions — and for Morocco these seem to be confused and worrying plans of a possible ban of the production and sale of the burqa, a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to toe. Worn in public by many Muslim women countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, the burqa is not part of the culture of Morocco. The full veil in Morocco is the niqab, which leaves everything except the area around the eyes covered.
The above picture of the notice that was sent by a representative of the Interior Ministry of Morocco is being circulated widely on social media platforms. It writes, “following the observations of the authorities, we notice that you sell burqas – so, we are calling on you to get rid of the products of this outfit within 48 hours and to refrain from selling it in the future.”
“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,” news outlet Le360 quoted to be the words of a senior interior ministry official.
It is said the measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns, “since bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes.”
There still has been no official statement by authorities on the subject, but reports continue to circulate in the commercial districts of Casablanca of the order taking effect this week.
It is also till very unclear if Morocco plans to follow suit of European countries such as France and Belgium, where wearing the full-veil has been illegal since 2011. Some reports, however, claim that the ban will only affect the small city of Taroudant in southern Morocco, where authorities have allegedly ordered traders to stop making and selling burqas and liquidate their stock within 48 hours. Retailers in the northern town of Ouislane were also said to have felt similar demands.
Under the moderate-version of Islam under King Mohammed VI, most women in Morocco prefer a simple headscarf (hijab) that does not cover the face. The niqab, on the other hand, is worn in Salafist circles and in more conservative regions in the north “from where thousands of jihadists have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.” This ban has thus led to concerns in the Salafist populations who fear a similar ban on the niqab. “Is Morocco moving towards banning the niqab that Muslim women have worn for five centuries?” Salafist Sheikh Hassan Kettani wrote on Facebook. “If true, it would be a disaster.”
We will keep you updated if we receive any news on the subject — but for now, these reports can only be classified as exaggerated claims.