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November 7, 2016 7:21 am

Are Niqabs and Kippot Equally Threatening?

avatar by Daniel Pipes

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Harry Styles's blue knitted kippa. Photo: Ben Winston via Twitter.

Harry Styles’s blue knitted kippa. Photo: Ben Winston via Twitter.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich has distributed a standardized reply to the avalanche of protests (including a particularly eloquent one by National Review) against its wretched Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists (of which I am allegedly one). Her apologia makes a quite remarkable claim in reference to me that calls for a response. She writes that

the calling for a ban of any religious dress is indeed extreme, regardless of the religious institution. Calling for a ban on the niqab is akin to banning a kippah. Daniel Pipes, another extremist on this list, has also called for a similar ban. These calls are contrary to religious freedom.

The kippah (aka yarmulke) — really? In response, I offer two points addressed to Ms. Beirich:

First, I am fine with the wearing of a hijab or burkini — because these do not threaten public security. They are a matter of personal Islamic expression. But I reject the niqab and burqa, because they do threaten public security. Had you bothered to consult my blog on this subject, detailing more than 100 incidents where these articles of clothing have been used to facilitate criminality, political violence and jihad, you would understand the problem.

Second, headgear like niqabs and burqas are banned in banks and other commercial institutions around the world, for the obvious reason that criminals use them as accessories to holdups. So far as I know, not a single institution has ever banned the kippah, a tiny covering at the top of the head, on security grounds. Can you possibly figure out why not?

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