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Mosul residents divided over 'burqa ban'

First the Islamic State and now security restrictions on wearing the full face veil, or niqab, have women and others in Mosul reassessing their perceptions of the practice.
A displaced Iraqi woman removes her niqab, in western Mosul, Iraq, June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani - RTX38TUZ

MOSUL, Iraq — Mosul is a city known for its conservative nature and patriarchal social character, but the decision to wear a headscarf is often related to the family and the area where a woman lives. It is perhaps unsurprising that Iraqi opinions vary on a ban imposed on the face veil — known as the niqab — June 1 by the Ninevah province police command on areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS). Supporters view it as a necessary security measure, while detractors see it as a violation of personal liberty.

The hijab covers the hair but leaves the face uncovered, while the niqab, worn with a hijab, covers the lower part of the face, leaving only the eyes visible, and can cover parts of the lower body as well. Among the opponents of the current ban is a young woman seen crossing the street in a long black, loose-fitting jilbab in eastern Mosul, which was liberated in January. Once she arrived at the gate of the Ibn al-Athir Hospital, she unveiled her face to a policeman to identity herself. After being allowed entry, she immediately covered it again.

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