from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Security Checks and the Veil

November 8, 2012

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

More on:

Saudi Arabia

Human Rights

Politics and Government

What happens when 21st century security requirements clash with the strictest versions of Islam which require that women keep their faces covered? In most countries, the face covering must go. In Australia last summer, for example, a news story reported that despite objections

Burqa clad Muslim women in the Australian state of New South Wales would have to remove their veils and show their faces if asked by the police or risk a jail term. The new step is being introduced in the country’s most populous state next week under which the police would be given sweeping powers to demand removal of any face covering, including helmets, masks and religious veils, for making identification.

Now it seems that the entire subject should be considered closed--for in Saudi Arabia itself the Shura Council has ruled the same way as the Aussies.

Saudi Arabian authorities have rejected a conservative proposal to allow women to keep their faces covered during security checks, local media reported on Tuesday. A draft law would have allowed women to continue wearing veils during the checks, and would have required their identity cards to be based on fingerprints instead of photographs, the Saudi Gazette said. The Shura Council, a consultative body appointed by the king, rejected the plan on Sunday, although it agreed that female security staff should carry out checks on women, the newspaper reported.

No doubt there will be further complaints and lawsuits. But now that even the Saudis have come down on the side of security the argument that Islam, even Wahhabi Islam, prevents a woman for showing her face is fatally weakened - and our common security further strengthened.

More on:

Saudi Arabia

Human Rights

Politics and Government

Up
Close