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.