Killing of U.S. woman stirs niqab debate in UAE

Some UAE newspapers pondered whether a ban on the Islamic face veil would enhance the country’s security

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Some local newspapers in the UAE are pondering whether a ban on the Islamic face veil would enhance security after the stabbing of an American woman by a burqa-clad suspect seen on surveillance camera.

On Wednesday, an English-language newspaper, Gulf News, asked: “Should niqab not be worn for security reasons?”

The paper said “the stabbing death of an American school teacher by a niqab-clad assailant in a women’s restroom at an Abu Dhabi mall is drawing mixed reactions across the country as to whether or not the niqab should be worn for security reasons.”

“The niqab crime, and the niqab is a crime,” read one title by columnist Ali bin Tamim on website, saying it is time the issue is placed on the negotiations table to discuss its validity, citing “horrendous” crime that happened in Abu Dhabi.

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Killing of U.S. woman stirs niqab debate in UAE

Another columnist, Sami al-Riyami for Emarat Alyoum, wrote an article titled “Niqab and extremism or security and moderation.”

Riyami urged the security forces to cover this “void” in the security situation. He said crimes perpetrated by niqab-protected criminals are not only seen in the UAE but in other Muslims countries because of culprits being able to keep their identity withheld.

While local newspapers in the UAE treaded carefully, Western media has highlighted the possibility that terrorism is at play.

The stabbing of the kindergarten teacher Ibolya Ryan in Boutik Mall in Abu Dhabi on Monday by a burqa-clad suspect comes just weeks after the U.S. embassies in the Middle East warned citizens of an anonymous posting on a jihadist website encouraging attacks against teachers at American schools in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi’s The National cited Colonel Rashid Bourscheid, director of CID at Abu Dhabi Police, who said that the reasons for the attack are unknown.

Instead, the newspaper helped with the hunt by publishing contacts of the police or the Ministry of Interior.

“Police are still searching for the killer – and trying to establish a motive for the attack,” said the tabloid 7 Days.

Mohammed Abdullah Mutawie of the UAE University told Al Arabiya News that local newspapers attempt to be “objective” in reporting news by not blowing the incident out of proportion without statements from the government or evidence.

“Why can’t the case be a singular case unrelated to terrorism?” he said.

Asked about the U.S. embassy warning, he said “all embassies try to caution their citizens,” and her being a teacher could possibly be a “coincidence.”

Like Mutawie, Dubai-based media expert Ghasan Tahboub mulled the embassy’s notice as “periodic warning” and that is taking “the worst case scenario.”

“We will wait for the UAE investigation’s finding,” Tahboub said, expressing his “trust” in the country’s security apparatus.

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