The Islamic State (IS) group has reportedly banned women from wearing burka, the traditional Muslim veil, in areas where its members are standing guard. The ban, however, has nothing to do with a change in its views on women, and is certainly not related to the much-debated burkini ban in France, which was recently lifted by a top court in the country.
According to Al-Alam News, the ban in Iraq stems from security concerns, with rising incidents of people in burka attacking members of the group, which ia also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The most recent of these attacks was reported from Salah al-Din province on Monday by Iraqi News. The report quoted sources as saying: "A veiled woman carrying a pistol killed two members of Isis who were standing at a checkpoint in Sharqat, north of Salah al-Din. The incident surprised the organisation and forced them to issue an alert of similar attacks."
The burka ban seems like a complete U-turn from the group's hardline policy on the veil. There have been several instances of women being severely punished, including death sentence, for not wearing burka.
In one incident from December 2015, Isis had executed three women using the "biter" — a tong-like instrument with sharp metal teeth at its ends — in Mosul for not wearing a hijab. In another incident from August last year, the extremist group had five women stoned to death for not wearing a hijab. This incident, too, had taken place in Mosul.
Isis is known to carry out extreme punishments on civilians, including women and children, over charges of not complying with its rigid diktats. This strict stance is believed to be one of the reasons why hijab-clad women from around the world have been, on certain instances, mistreated and subjected to racial slurs and attacks.