Is there a difference between a niqab and a face mask?

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During the Coronacrisis more and more people are wearing face masks. In western Europe some have seen in this trend the unmasking (pun intended) of a deep hypocrisy: in contexts where Muslim women who wear the niqab have been vilified for covering their face in public, and such forms of dress banned in some places, the sudden social acceptability, even encouragement and good social manners of face covering highlights the nonsensical attitudes towards those forms of female Islamic dress. The idea that face coverings prevent effective communication, for instance, is being tested and found a little wanting. Indeed, it has been suggested that ‘we are all niqabis now’, thus pointing to a symmetry between the niqab and face masks belied by the apparent hypocrisy.

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