N.B.: The Washington Times title is “When burqas become accessories to crime: Criminals can hide behind Islamic garb” and it contains small differences from this version
Philadelphia, the city where I live, has quietly and unassumedly become the capital of the Western world as regards female Islamic garb as an accessory to crime.
|A BBC graphic shows the difference between the niqab and burqa.|
First, a tutorial on Islamic coverings, all of which tend to be called veils in English but fall into three main categories. Some (the abaya, hijab, chador, jilbab, or khimar) cover parts of the body, especially the hair, neck, and shoulders, but reveal the face and identity of the woman; some cover the face (the yashmak) but show the body shape; and some hide the whole body, including the identity and gender of the wearer. The latter – our topic here – is better described as a full-body cover than a veil: it in turn has two types, those that cover the person entirely (the chadari or burqa) or those with a slit for the eyes (the haik or niqab).
By my count, the Philadelphia region has witnessed 14 robberies (or attempted robberies) of financial institutions in the past six years in which the thieves relied on an Islamic full-body cover. They took place in January 2007, June 2007, May 2008, November 2009, October 2010 (two), February 2011, June 2011, December 2011, January 2012, March 2012 (two), and April 2012 (two). The most violent attack took place on May 3, 2008, when Police Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski was killed with an AK-47 in a shoot-out following a successful robbery using burqas; the police then killed one of the criminals.