How Coronavirus demands face coverings in public

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By Mohammad Azeemullah

Not long ago, many countries around the world seemed hostile to face coverings in public. They not only banned them but also discredited them as a ‘sign of subjugation’.

Boris Johnson, when he was a foreign secretary, criticized Muslim women wearing face coverings as looking “like letter boxes”, and compared them to bank robbers and rebellious teenagers.

Social Democrats and the conservative Austrian People’s Party said that face coverings in public stood in the way of “open communication”, and are an affront to “open society”.

In India, the Shiv Sena, once demanded a ban on burqa by writing about it in Saamna, its mouthpiece “People wearing face masks or burqa could pose a threat to national security,”.

The list of invectives against face coverings is unending. Apart from European countries such as France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, a few Muslim majority countries namely Tunisia and Turkey too viewed face coverings in public with skepticism.

While ban is still in place in many Western countries, Tunisia and Turkey recently lifted their prohibition.

Hijabi Muslim women

However, coronavirus epidemic has upended the dynamics. The virus has given rise to reversed stories about face coverings or masks in public around the world.

Those who abhorred and stigmatized face coverings as ‘socially backward’ and medically ‘disease-ridden’ have come to realize their healing value.

In fact, face coverings are proving to be a life-saving mechanism in the midst of widespread infection, and authority around the world is issuing guidelines how to use them in public.

On April 03, 2020, the White House urged Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to internal memos and new guidance provided to the White House by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In light of these new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of virus to those around them,”.

Earlier the practice of face covering was a step backward in society.  Now it is a way to protect ourselves from coronavirus. Strange!  As we learn more about the virus, more experts voice that there is probably some benefit to covering faces in public.

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, who recently wrote an article about how the coronavirus behaves inside patients, says, “The mask works two ways — not only to protect you from me, but me from you.”

He further reflects: ““I think the vast amount of data would suggest that the coronavirus is an airborne infection carried by respiratory droplets, and it also can be passed on by direct contact.”

In view of ongoing coronavirus outbreak, face masks are in such a huge demand that many countries are unable to afford them for their people.

Suggestions are being made how to make or afford them locally as professional masks, scarce in supply, should be reserved for hospitals and emergency workers.

Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who co-authored a widely shared article about the need to cover your face, explains: “Cover your face pretty thoroughly from your mouth to your nose to prevent large aerosol droplets coming out or going in.” She further adds: “Cover your face with cloth — however you want to do that.”

Whatever the obligation of social necessity, the debate around face covering has come to a full circle. Secularists as well as religionists have crept to join hands for a common cause to fight coronavirus by using face covering or mask in full view of public.

The present viewpoint demonstrates that ‘conceptualization behind face covering, veil or mask is in itself not an inferior and unhealthy practice’ but ‘the sentiment about the way we look at and interpret it’.

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The author teaches English at College of Education, Gulf of Sidra University,  Bin Jawad, Libya.

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35 COMMENTS

  1. Well corono virus is not only about covering the face, but also not going out, not coming close to each other, not shaking hands, not praying in mosques, or not even visiting Janazahs of your near and dear ones, which of course are not normal, and which condition you dont want to last for ever. If you are restricted to go out then you cant do much vice covering your face, which is not the case if you are allowed to freely mingle in the normal crowd. Please dont go out of ways to justify this abominable practice, which is the single most reason which has alienated the world from Muslims, and especially problematic in India. Please realize we Muslims are not above law.

  2. ‘Covering face or using mask in public’ has medicinal value now. Any ‘medicinal value’ of something is based on logic of science. Please don’t cover your face or use mask if you don’t like. But it cannot be compared with restrictions of movement.

    • Well it can’t have medicinal value only for females. Why not Muslim males too start wearing veils from now.

          • Muslim women have been following this medicinal value since long. It is not new to them. The world has just come to practice it. Now they are able to swallow what they used to criticize.

          • I mean don’t make not going to mosque also permanent because it has the exactly the same medicinal value.

          • Restriction of movement to mosque, temple and other public places are measures to ensure your safety. With face veil or mask, your movement is not restricted. You are still free. It adds to your advantage and does not affec your life to carry out essential duties. Its ‘medicinal value’ guards you.

        • Yes. With face veil your movement is not only unrestricted, but is even more “free” than others. That’s where the problem lies. That’s an unfair advantage, the advantage not to run into your boss while skipping work. So you want to continue the restriction to mosques for ever to ensure safety?

      • The troll “Arabic Student” is quite funny (foolishly stupid 🤔🤔🤔) and seems to subscribe to UNPROVEN and UNSUBSTANTIATED feminist ideology.

        Well, I don’t necessarily think people will come to their senses in this pandemic period to understand the wisdom of HIJAB and NIQAB but I do think that Many foolish and Absurd arguments against Hijab and Niqab will be dustbin-ed and never be used again.

        • It is very natural. Concealing your face in the public – and we know whose hallmark that is – and not even giving away if you are male or female is the most natural thing in the world. But please show up for a moment while trying to prove your citizenship.

          • Lol, looks like the troll has been triggered.

            Making a lot of assumptions and propounding shitty arguments is The HALLMARK of this troll named , Surprisingly, “Arabic Student”. Would you mind PROVING “the” ANYTHING you believe or will you just shit the comment section and waste the time of a Very INTELLIGENT AND RATIONAL person!?
            I hope you are a sensible person…

  3. Hahaha, quite a funny reply with a tinge of UNPROVEN (UNPROVABLE!!!!!) ideology.
    If you can’t prove anything, why the hell you call HIJAB and NIQAB wrong/abominable!? Why does it matter to if you’re not sure about one’s own nature/character/ beliefs/ positions!!?? It’s so rude and ridiculously Absurd to “throw” stones at others when you are living in a GLASS HOUSE!!!

    • Yes I can’t prove anything. I can’t prove if you are male or female, if you are a stealer or robber who want to sneak away behind the veil or not, if you want to cheat in exams or not, if you want to escape CCTV cameras or not, if you want to abduct children or not. So you can see veil helps you not to allow me to prove anything.

      • Hmmmm, so you have accepted INTELLECTUAL defeat in face of an intelligent and rational muslim and just blabbering meaningless “statements” with careless disregard to logicality. I hope, the Almighty drives some sense in you so that you can RATIONALLY and INTELLECTUALLY see the Truth and stop behaving like a pampered kid.

        • I have to accept defeat in the FACE of a guy/gal (who knows) who is intellectual enough to swear by face, while being faceless? Well if I can’t see that face, how can I accept defeat in that face?

          • Hahahaha, lol. I don’t get your obsession with the face covering , Niqab. Do you have some self-image issues!? Do you consider yourself unattractive!? I really don’t get it. …

  4. Anyway thanks to Muslim Mirror and the author for coming up with one major contribution of Islam and Muslims to fight Corona virus. Maybe no scientific innovation, no vaccines, no genome sequencing, no drugs, and while waiting for someone in the east or west to come up with all these things and infecting others in between, we have come up with what we can – veils for males also. Masha Allah.

  5. Ye Sanghi troll haye ”Arabic student”

    Kindly don’t let him have fun at your expenese!

    Ignore him and better do some Zikr than wasting time without understanding!

    JazakAllah.

  6. Well, why you have chosen the woman with face viel in this article a fair skinned Arabian? You have given away some of her beauty through the uncovered parts. Why not choose a black skinned African or even Indian woman, who would not have caused such distress to us even without face viel.

    If this is not racism then what is?

  7. I thought you “knew” English. But it seems like……Oh leave it…..!!! Have a good day anyways…..

  8. I found it ironic that everyone is supposed to cover nowadays, but there has been controversy over Islamic dress in the recent past. I think it just goes back to the fear of the unknown rather than a purposeful prejudice. People are more afraid of getting sick these days than someone pretending to be someone else for dubious means.
    I personally do not believe in covering up with face masks for protection because your body needs exposure to viruses and bacteria to build immunity to it. That goes for COVID-19 too. But, at this point, we have to cover in my community because no one is allowed in a public area without a mask.
    I DO believe in covering for modesty purposes.

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