Turns out that France may be dead-on in banning the niqab, the black face covering that leaves only the eyes exposed. Not just from the perspective of liberty, equality, fraternity, though those are all laudable ideals. Nor from the sense buried deep within the French that a hijacking by interior cultural forces is anathema.
Banning the niqab is a health and safety measure.
In Britain, a 20-year-old London woman was attacked weeks ago with acid thrown on her as she was walking home from work. The acid was hurled by a figure dressed in black robes, its face obscured by a niqab.
Despite the ferocious and brutal injuries to Naomi Oni’s face and eyes – she was partly, permanently blinded – she is coming forward, with photos, in order to bring attention to her attack and engage the public in a search for her attacker.
That evening, December 30, Oni left a late shift at work. She rode a bus to her northeast London suburb of Dagenham, got off, and began to walk home to the flat she shares with her mother while talking on her phone to her boyfriend.
Oni could hear steps behind her, trailing her. She turned to look and saw a figure dressed in devout Muslim women’s style, with burqa and niqab. Thinking her presence was odd – why was a burqa-clad Muslim woman out so late in the dark? – Oni kept walking.
Then came the acid.
Choking, burning, Oni ran away, reached home, and collapsed before her mother and aunt.
Since then, she has undergone a month’s worth of skin grafts and therapy, and “faces months if not years of skin grafts and further plastic surgery and even then is likely to be left with severe facial scarring, according to doctors”, writes the Independent.
She breaks her frightened silence – she and her mother have left their apartment, fearing more attacks, and are sleeping on a friend’s sofa – so that Londoners know what happened and can help her find the perpetrator.
Who is almost certainly male.
When was the last time you heard of a female attacking a stranger, on the street, with acid?
Back in August of 2010, a woman named Bethany Storro claimed that she had been attacked by a woman using acid. But it was a hoax. Storro had wiped her face with acid herself in a suicide attempt that turned into a con.
Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director, was attacked with acid in Moscow last month. He is not sure whether his sight will be saved. But the attacker was male, and Filin is absolutely positive he knows who is behind the attack, and why.
The repugnant acid attacks on Afghan schoolgirls are all perpetrated by males.
So how likely is it that Naomi Oni’s attacker was a man disguised by an enveloping burqa and masking niqab? Practically 100%.
Since Islam forbids men to imitate women by dressing like them, the attacker – if he was Muslim at all – had already crossed an individual ethical line when he put on the burqa and niqab. In disguising his face to avoid identification by CCTV cameras, he endangered everyone in Dagenham.
His biggest act of depravity was in causing pain and lifelong loss to Naomi Oni. That act makes him a domestic terrorist.
That’s why he must be caught and punished.