Chad is enforcing a ban on Islamic face veils instituted last month after a suicide bomber dressed as a woman killed more than a dozen people at the main market of the Central African country’s capital, N’Djamena. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Chadian authorities have pointed the finger at Nigerian-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram, according to RT news.
Numerous witnesses said the male attacker tried entering the crowded market wearing a burqa but was stopped for a security check. He then detonated his explosives, killing at least 15 people and wounding 80 others, Reuters reported. Chadian authorities in June outlawed the head-to-toe Islamic garb following a series of suicide bombings in the Muslim-majority country. Chad joined neighboring Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram after the insurgents began launching deadly cross-border attacks.
Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet said last month that militants used the veil as “camouflage” and that security forces would begin burning all face veils sold in markets. The ban was applied everywhere -- not only in public places -- and included religious turbans, according to the BBC.
— WW3 BREAKING NEWS (@WW3breakingnews) July 11, 2015
Boko Haram has killed at least 15,000 people since its brutal insurgency began in 2009. Some 1.5 million others have been forced from their homes, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
About 53 percent of Chad’s population identifies as Muslim, according to the CIA Factbook. Most Chadian women who wear the burqa do so for religious reasons, but it's also protection against the hot and dusty Sahara climate, the BBC reported.
Chad is not the only African nation to outlaw burqas. In an effort to counter extremism, Congo-Brazzaville instituted its own ban in May on the burqa and the niqab, a face veil that leaves the area around the eyes open, according to Religion News Service.