Proposal on burqa in Davao malls stirs controversy
DAVAO CITY—Muslim religious leaders here said they are not objecting to the proposal that Muslim women be required to take off their burqas during inspection at mall entrances if only to establish their identities.
Ustadz Mahmod Mala Adilao, chair of the Regional Ulama League of the Philippines, said they would conform to the proposal as long as it would involve female guards.
Adilao also said only burqas, not hijabs, should be removed at mall entrances and that women wearing them can put them back on after the inspection.
Burqas are enveloping outer garment worn by some Muslim women while hijabs are veils that usually cover just the head and chest.
Earlier, the city’s Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) said it planned to require Muslim women to take off their burqas upon entering malls and other establishments as part of security protocol in the city.
But retired Gen. Benito de Leon, the new chief of the PSSCC, clarified that Muslim women can put back their burqas on after the inspection. He said, though, that mall guards could demand its removal when needed.
De Leon said not only burqas would be removed at mall entrances but also caps, bonnets, sunglasses and other accessories that can conceal the identity of a person.
“We are sorry if this is part of your custom and tradition, but we need to consider the interest of the majority, we ask you to cooperate,” he said, addressing himself to Muslim women.
The group Suara Bangsamoro has criticized the security protocol for being discriminatory against Muslims and disrespectful to their religious belief and culture.
Amirah Ali Lidasan, Suara Bangsamoro national chair, said taking off burqas in public cannot be compared to taking off a cap or a mask because burqas are part of religious practices.
“The Moro women wear burqas as part of their religious belief, just like why nuns wear it,” Lidasan said.
“Then you ask them to take it off?” she added.
Lidasan said the security protocol reeked of discrimination.
“The security protocol is so focused on the Moro,” she said.
In an e-mail statement, Mayor Sara Duterte said she understood the sentiments of “our Muslim sisters” on the removal of burqas and suggested that “you wear the hijab, which shows your face, or cooperate with security personnel and show your face if you are wearing the burqa.”
“The law enforcement officers have expressed their opinion that it would be a good security practice to disallow garments that cover the faces in public places. These garments include hats, sunglasses, facemasks, mouth masks, burqa, face paint and other similar things,” she said.
Mayor Duterte said everyone should understand that the welfare of the majority “takes precedence over religious tradition.”
“While it is true that these garments are not disallowed by law, we discourage their use in public places,” she said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao