Senegal has banned women from wearing the burqa, amid rising fears of Islamic extremism in the west African country.
The interior minister, Abdoulaye Daouda, said women would no longer be allowed to wear the Islamic dress, which leaves only the eyes exposed. Daouda said the decision was a question of national security and was designed to prevent terrorists from using the burqa as a disguise.
An estimated 92% of Senegal’s population is Muslim. Although the country has not suffered a terrorist attack recently, authorities are concerned that the Islamic militant group Boko Haram, based in north-eastern Nigeria, may be trying to extend its range. This month, police arrested five people suspected of having ties to Boko Haram as part of a nationwide crackdown.
Senegal is not alone in west Africa in banning the burqa. This year Cameroon and Chad, also Muslim-majority countries, issued similar orders citing similar reasons. “Senegal is just following the trend,” said Martin Ewi, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.