I ran into an unsourced claim form one of the commenters of the Economist where the user makes a claim about the frequency of women wearing burqas and veil two generations ago (how much time spans a generation? 20 years?).

In a rare instance, KAL is on the wrong side of this issue. The wearing of Islamic garb has risen with the rise in radical Islam. Two generations ago, women across the Islamic world rarely wore veils, burqas or, in some places, even hijabs.

Is there evidence to suggest that what the commenter says is true?

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    As with most things, this is a complicated issue. The governments of countries like Egypt and Iran banned or otherwise discouraged the veil at various times in the past, usually when run by dictators friendly to West. So various versions of the veil are probably more common now in those countries than in the past, but I wouldn't say it has much with what we consider "radical Islam" today. Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 20:00

1 Answer 1


It is well known that the Burqa and the Hijab were in existence in Pre-Islamic Arabia and in Persia as part of tradition. In contemporary times on the other hand, it depends on the region. In certain parts of the world the Burqa has seen popularity and decline based on political events. For instance during Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Burqa saw a huge decline as the communist philosophy required women to work alongside men and consequently women weren't allowed to wear it. After the Soviets left it saw a rise. This is not to imply whether Soviet occupation was good or bad or the Burqa is good or bad. However; in Pakistan, the Burqa saw a rapid decline after the 50s but mostly in the urban areas. In countries like Turkey, Iran and Malaysia the Burqa is a rare sight. Also Islam actually prohibits women to wear the burqa during the annual Hajj pilgrimage required for Muslims at least once in life.

The Hijab on the contrary is seen across the Muslim world with rough uniformity. So to answer your question; the Hijab I think for sure has no correlation to radicalism. Does the Burqa?? I'm inclined to say no to that as well. Personally I don't think a link between them is possible.

Hope that helps.

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    Welcome to Skeptics! This answer is not properly referenced. Please add citations to support your claims! :-)
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:16
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    Hi Sklivvz, I've added some citations for now. I'll try to find some later and post them as well. Thanks for letting me know!
    – EuropaDust
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 0:42
  • A few points: During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, women in Kabul may not have worn the burqa, but outside the cities, it was very different. In Iran, you almost never see women covering their face; Shia women normally do not cover their faces, and it has nothing to do with radicalism or the lack thereof. (I don't know where I could find a reference for that, but I am a Muslim living in the Middle East, and I know it to be true.) As for hajj, I couldn't get to the link in the previous answer, but this is a reference to when women are in a state of ihram (consecration for making the a
    – user10573
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 16:16
  • @UmmAbdullah I've moved your answer here where it belonged, but it didn't fit in a single comment. feel free to add another comment with the rest if you like.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 20:53

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