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A burqa (also burkha, burka or burqua) (Arabic: برقعة, burqʿah) is an all-enveloping outer garment worn by most women in Afghanistan, and some in Pakistan, and northern India. It is worn over the usual daily clothing (often a long dress or a salwar kameez) and removed when the woman returns to the sanctuary of the household.

Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, it was little worn in cities. During the Taliban's reign, women were required to wear a burqa whenever they appeared in public. Officially it is not required under the present Afghan regime, but local warlords still usually enforce it everywhere outside Kabul.[citation needed] In current unsettled conditions, women who might not otherwise wear the burqa must do so as matter of personal safety.

The full or Afghan burqa covers the wearer's entire face except for a small region about the eyes, which is covered by a concealing net or grille. Pakistani and Indian burkas may expose the face or eyes. It is usually sewn from light materials, and requires many yards/meters of material. Blue is a favourite colour for burqas. The cap from which the material hangs may be decorated with embroidery.

Many Muslims believe that the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an, and the collected traditions, or hadith, require a woman to dress and behave modestly in public. However, this requirement, called hijab, has been interpreted in many different ways by Islamic scholars (ulema) and Muslim communities (see Women in Muslim societies).


[edit] Prohibition of the burqa in Europe

The burqa is a prominent symbol of the presence of Islam in Europe, although very few women wear it. It has become a controversial political issue, and some intellectuals and political groups advocate prohibition, for various reasons (see Islamic dress controversy in Europe).

The government of the Netherlands is the first to plan a legal ban on face-covering Islamic clothing, popularly described as the 'burqa ban', although it does not only apply to the Afghan-type burqa. Immigration and Integration minister Rita Verdonk announced the legislation in November 2006. <ref>Expatica: Cabinet backs plan to ban burka, 17 November 2006, [1]</ref> In the November 2006 general election, the Party for Freedom won 9 seats: it advocates prohibition of the burqa. In response, a group of Muslim women organised a unique (for Europe) pro-burqa demonstration at the newly elected Dutch parliament in The Hague. <ref>IHT: Muslim women protest outside Dutch parliament against burqa ban , November 30, 2006, [2]</ref>

Islamic Dress
Turban | Keffiyeh | Salwar kameez
Burqa | Chador | Niqab | Hijab | Sartorial hijab

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