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face veils are not Islamic, should be banned in public

Reader comment on item: Burqas and Niqabs in the Classroom?

Submitted by A. Whealey (United States), Dec 12, 2005 at 22:09

Face-veils should be banned in public spaces in Western countries. Covering the face is used to obscure the identiy of the perpetrators and victims of all sorts of crimes. Public safety is far more important than humoring those who erroneously assume that a face-veil is "Islamic."

Face-veils are a pagan Arab custom, not an Islamic one. The Christian writer Tertullian in his treatise "On the veiling of virgins" observed that veiling the face, not just the head, was a common practice among pagan Arab women of his own day, around 200 AD, four hundred years before Islam even existed. The compilers of the Talmud, also writing before Islam, likewise observed that Arab women often veiled their faces (Shab 6:6).

The sixth century Syriac writer Simeon Beth Arsham also assumed that veiling the face was standard practice among the women of Najran, Arabia, as his letter about the martyrs of Najran makes clear. (Versions of Simeon's letter can be found in the chronicle of Zuqnin and the chronicle of Zachariah of Mitylene). As with so many other allegedly "Islamic" practices, some Muslim "scholars" erroneously assume that the pagan Arab practice of covering a woman's face is Islamic because they do not serious study any pre-Islamic evidence (in this case Tertullian, the Talmud, and Syriac Christian writers).
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