Ramadan ban on burqas in Iraq's Mosul angers locals

Ramadan ban on burqas in Iraq's Mosul angers locals

Iraqis in government-controlled areas of Mosul have been angered by authorities imposing a burqa ban just months after IS forced women to wear the Islamic face veil.
2 min read
01 June, 2017
IS overran the conservative majority Sunni city in June 2014 [Getty]

Women have been banned from wearing the Islamic full face veil in the Iraqi city of Mosul during the holy month of Ramadan, sparking anger from some locals.

The move, which came into effect on Sunday, aims to prevent Islamic State group militants disguising as women to carry out suicide attacks.

More than seven months into the massive operation to retake Iraq's second city, security forces have recaptured all but a handful of areas of West Mosul from IS.

"Tribal and religious leaders have tried and failed to block the ban from coming into effect because they believe it goes against local culture," a police officer told The New Arab.

He added that security forces are forcing fully-veiled women to reveal their faces on the streets and in some cases forced them to take off the covering or return home.

This week, three suicide bombings in Baghdad and a city to the west killed at least 42 people, with militants targeting Iraqis breaking their Ramadan fast and elderly people collecting their pensions.

IS overran the conservative majority Sunni city in June 2014, soon imposing regulations stipulating that all women must wear the burqa in public.

Local sheikh Basim al-Shammari explained that many people in Mosul were upset that authorities were imposing further restrictions on women's dress just months after being freed from IS' harsh regulations.

"Society here is quite religious but before Daesh [IS], women didn't have to wear the niqab in many districts of the city," Shammari said.

"The burqa ban has angered locals because they think it is no different from the extremists' strict interpretation of Islamic law that forced women to wear it in the first place," he said.

Videos emerged last year of Mosul women taking off and burning their burqas in Mosul after the jihadists were driven out of their neighbourhoods.

Iraqi forces are advancing on the last areas of Mosul held by IS but the presence of large numbers of civilians is slowing their progress.

The United Nations has said that up to 200,000 civilians may still be in IS-held areas of Mosul, most of them in the Old City which lies immediately south of where the current fighting is taking place.