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Covering the face in the USA

Reader comment on item: Ban the Burqa - and the Niqab Too

Submitted by Gautieri (United States), Aug 3, 2007 at 14:24

Although I could be wrong, I always thought that completely covering your face in public was against the law in the United States because obviously you cannot be identified if you commit a crime. The exceptions, I have seen would be Halloween masks, Ski Masks in the Cold, or traditional Muslim Headdress.

I recently rode the subway out to Queens (New York City) with what appeared to be a young woman in what Mr. Pipes here describes as a "niquab" - all black shroud with only a slit for her eyes. It was very unnerving, even though I was convinced she was a college student making a political statement (which made me less fearful and just plain angry).

The one very telling and ironic part about this person was that she carried an ipod (I'm sure banned in the extremist world she fantasizes about) covered in a black sheath! Apparently the ipod needed to match! Overall though, her presence was chilling. Chilling for two reasons that I think are clear to any reasonable person;

1) She is making an Islamist "statement" on a Subway train (a prime potential terrorist target) and

2) Dressed as she was she is invisible as a person! -

In order to "size someone up" we look at them and either dismiss them as harmless or become more mindful of their presence. If we are disallowed this opportunity we naturally become uncomfortable. I think that is basic human psychology. The reason that might not apply in the Islamist world is because it's a social norm that has been around for centuries.
Ban it indeed - it is no more free expression than me wearing a t-shirt in public soaked in fake blood!

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