Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- Stuffy old London is all jitters about a new craze in woman's fashion, the niqab. It is a black gown that covers the ladies from head to toe. Even their arms are covered. Two slits, somewhat reminiscent of the slits in armored personnel carriers, allow the ladies to see out. There are no openings for the nostrils. How the ladies breath is a mystery. Perhaps they carry oxygen packs.

The heavy black garment is generally worn only by British Muslims, though possibly non-Muslim British ladies are also wearing niqabs. How would one know? For that matter, how would one know if there were more than one woman under a passing niqab, or perhaps a man, or two women and a goat? That is the problem, according to British authorities. No one knows what is going on under a nearby niqab.

Frankly, I would think that religiously strict mullahs also would be alarmed. There could be a man and a woman illicitly cohabiting under a nearby niqab, or just a rude woman sticking her tongue out at him. Compared to a miniskirt or a thong, a niqab is actually quite subversive. That is the view of British authorities. Some months ago, the Labor Party politician Jack Straw barred niqab-wearing women from his offices, even if they were wearing Chanel No. 5 and whistling "God Save the Queen."

According to my research, the niqab (pronounced Ni-@#$?) is a relatively new fashion trend among Muslim women, dating back only 600 years. Before that, the ladies wore relatively primitive garb. The niqab was originally devised as an attempt at modesty meant to mollify the raging libido of Muslim males, but it is causing trouble in Britain, where a gentleman's libido is not so problematic. Throughout the rest of Europe the niqab has already been banned, and the French have even banned the hajib (pronounced Ha-+*@^%), which only covers a woman's hair, somewhat like a babushka.

I doubt the niqab will ever be seen in America, where it would doubtless bring to mind the flowing robes and masked headdresses of the long-discredited Ku Klux Klan. True, the Klanspersons' robes were white, but that is a minor detail. The fact is that, owing to the Klansmen's controversial views and tendency toward extreme mayhem, we Americans banned most of their behavior long ago, even cross burning.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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