25th Sep 2013 | Articles

Sara Ibrahim write for the New Law Journal in “Veiled Attack” where she covers the recent controversy concerning the niqab.


The niqab has once again been catapulted onto the national stage through a combination of Birmingham Metropolitan College’s decision to revoke their ban and the recent decision of HHJ Peter Murphy in Blackfriars Crown Court. This has understandably provoked political debate but not much of it offers the clear guidance that is needed in our courts and elsewhere. While the Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, has sponsored the Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill which advocates a total ban in public places, this is unlikely to be adopted as government or even opposition policy. This means there is a tricky line that lawyers will have to walk between freedom of religious expression (under Art 9) and the public interests of justice.

Perhaps it is best to start with an explanation of what the niqab is. Like the hijab (head scarf), the word niqab is derived from the Arabic for “veil”. The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear, but is less covering than the burka….

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