Argument: Burqa/niqab ban preserves identification for fighting crime

Issue Report: Ban on Muslim burqa and niqab


Daniel Pipes. “Ban the Burqa – and the Niqab Too.” Jerusalem Post. August 1, 2007: “Burqas and niqabs also facilitate non-political criminal behavior. Unsurprisingly, favorite targets of robberies include jewelry stores (examples come from Canada, Great Britain, and India) and banks (Great Britain, Bosnia, and two 2007 attacks in Philadelphia). Curiously, in Kenya, street prostitutes have donned buibuis (which reveals slightly more of the face than a niqab), the better to blend into the night population and avoid the police.”

Jean Francois-Cope. “Tearing away the veil.” New York Times. May 4th, 2010: “This face covering poses a serious safety problem at a time when security cameras play an important role in the protection of public order. An armed robbery recently committed in the Paris suburbs by criminals dressed in burqas provided an unfortunate confirmation of this fact. As a mayor, I cannot guarantee the protection of the residents for whom I am responsible if masked people are allowed to run about.

The visibility of the face in the public sphere has always been a public safety requirement. It was so obvious that until now it did not need to be enshrined in law. But the increase in women wearing the niqab, like that of the ski mask favored by criminals, changes that. We must therefore adjust our law, without waiting for the phenomenon to spread.”

“Would the burqa ban stop burqa crime.” Ozoapbox Blog. May 6th, 2010: “Currently one of the biggest pushes for banning the burqa revolves around the argument that those that wear a burqa cannot be spot identified.

If you’re walking down the street in one nobody has any idea who you are. Even if the police stop you and they’re unlucky enough to be male they have to wait for a female officer to rock up to carry out any identity checks.

On the religious front this is innocent enough. However when people use the burqa for criminal activity, such action highlights the fact that if you cannot be spot identified there’s a good chance you’ll get away with it.

Would banning the burqa however actually stop people committing crimes whilst wearing one?

The main fear about not being able to publicly spot identify someone is that in the event of a crime, witnesses and CCTV aren’t able to reveal much.

Case in point the ‘burqa bandit’ photo I used above. This man (or woman) robbed a North Carolina bank in the US at gunpoint. If you witnessed the robbery what would you tell police?

The burqa bandit was never apprehended and the police still don’t even know if it was a male or female under the veil.
More recently in Miranda, Sydney, two men stalked a third man who’d just withdrawn a large amount of cash from an ATM.”

“Australia burka armed robbery sparks ban debate.” BBC. May 7th, 2010: “An armed robbery allegedly carried out by a man wearing a burka has sparked a row in Australia on whether the full-face Islamic veil should be banned.

Opposition Liberal Sen Cory Bernardi said the robbery showed the burka was ’emerging as the preferred disguise of bandits and ne’er-do-wells.'”

Daniel Pipes. “Burqa Crime.” The American Conservative Union Foundation. September 30, 2009: “Criminality: Jordan offers a glimpse into the potential for niqabs and burqas as illegal accessories: one news report indicates that 50 people committed 170 crimes using Islamic garments during the past two years, or roughly one incident every four days, a crime wave that has prompted some Jordanians to call for restricting or even banning these Islamic head coverings.

No other country reports nearly so many head-garment-related crimes, but Philadelphia, Pennsylvania boasts multiple robberies (3 banks and 1 real estate leasing office) in a sixteen-month period in 2007-08, including the murder of a police officer.

The United Kingdom has the West’s second-worst record. Jewelry stores – some owned by Muslims – have been targeted in the West Midlands, Glasgow, and Oxfordshire. Two travel agencies were attacked in the adjoining towns of Dunstable and Luton while an armored truck driver was assaulted in Birmingham. Robbery is not the only motive; teenagers in London, used niqab-style face coverings when stabbing a younger boy.

Other criminal incidents in the West include east European pickpockets wearing Islamic headgear in Rotterdam and a burgundy burqa’ed armed robbery at the People’s Bank in Hiddenite, North Carolina (population: 6,000). The man who abducted Elizabeth Smart, 14, of Salt Lake City, forced her to wear a niqab-like garment that hid her in plain sight for nine months.”