Ever since federal and local officials changed their position about face masks for protection against COVID-19, most Americans began wearing face masks this week. Even though this is a new thing for many, and they’re unable to recognize their neighbors, or are struggling to engage socially without using facial expressions, covering your face is nothing new for Muslim women who wear the niqab. They are often met with open hostility in the west for covering their faces.
The niqab, or the Muslim veil, is a garment that is not required by Islam, but it’s considered recommended in some cases. It’s usually worn with a loose garment and a hijab.
Many Muslim women feel the spiritual benefits or niqab-wearing, as it makes them feel closer to God and deepens their Islam practice. Wearing the niqab in public, however, often subjected these women to religious and racist harassment. According to researchers, Muslim women who wear Islamic dress in non-Muslim majority countries are frequently subjected to harassment, and a 2017 study conducted in the U.S. found that 85 percent of Muslim women reported verbal harassment.
To add to that, 80 percent of British niqab wearers said in a 2014 study that they had experienced verbal or physical harassment.
Now, though, in a truly unexpected turn of events, everyone suddenly understands the niqab. As people in the West are all wearing face masks to do the most basic stuff in life, public life in the niqab has been made much more pleasant, according to Muslim women.
There’s a difference to the way niqab-wearing women are being perceived now, and nobody gives them “the looks” because of their covered face.
Fashion designers have even started to make face coverings look stylish, even though Muslim women have been long perceived as a security threat.