Philadelphia’s Burqa Crisis

Reprinted from

Philadelphia, the city where I live, has quietly and unassumedly become the capital of the Western world as regards female Islamic garb as an accessory to crime.

First, a tutorial on Islamic coverings, all of which tend to be called veils in English but fall into three main categories. Some (the abaya, hijab, chador, jilbab, or khimar) cover parts of the body, especially the hair, neck, and shoulders, but reveal the face and identity of the woman; some cover the face (the yashmak) but show the body shape; and some hide the whole body, including the identity and gender of the wearer. The latter – our topic here – is better described as a full-body cover than a veil: it in turn has two types, those that cover the person entirely (the chadari or burqa) or those with a slit for the eyes (the haik or niqab).

By my count, the Philadelphia region has witnessed 14 robberies (or attempted robberies) of financial institutions in the past six years in which the thieves relied on an Islamic full-body cover. They took place in January 2007, June 2007, May 2008, November 2009, October 2010 (two), February 2011, June 2011, December 2011, January 2012, March 2012 (two), and April 2012 (two). The most violent attack took place on May 3, 2008, when Police Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski was killed with an AK-47 in a shoot-out following a successful robbery using burqas; the police then killed one of the criminals.

As the Middle East Forum’s David J. Rusin points out in his detailed survey of Philadelphia burqa crimes, Muslim garb holds two great advantages over other forms of disguise: First, many full-body covered women walk the streets without criminal intent, thereby inadvertently providing cover for thieves; the more full-body coverings around, the more likely that these will facilitate criminal activity. Second, the very strangeness and aloofness of these garments affords their wearers, including criminals, an extraordinary degree of protection. As in other cases (three purchases of alcohol in Toronto state liquor stores by a 14-year-old boy in a burqa; Muslim women not checked at Canadian airports), clerks so fear being accused of racism or “Islamophobia” that they skip state-mandated procedures, such as requiring niqabis to show their faces and establish their identities.

To their credit, some banks no longer allow head coverings. For example, a PNC Bankoffice in Philadelphia boasts a front-door sign stating: “The safety of our employees and customers is our foremost concern. We request that you remove any hats, caps, sunglasses or hoods while inside this financial institution.” Such policies should reduce burqa bank robberies.

But as banks become harder targets, Islamic garb presents a more general danger to soft targets. For example, in the Philadelphia area, assailants donned Islamic garb to rob a real estate office in 2008 and commit murder at a barber shop in 2012.

Not fatal but equally horrific, was the Jan. 14-15 abduction and rape of a 5-year-old child in Philadelphia. A niqabi signed Nailla Robinson out from the Bryant Elementary School pretending to be her mother taking her to breakfast. Investigators believe the two walked a few blocks to where a man awaited them. Nailla then disappeared for nearly a day and was only found the next morning shivering half-naked in a park by a passerby. Last week, the police arrested Christina Regusters, 19, an daycare center employee with prior contact with Nailla. The fourteen charges against her include kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal conspiracy.

The usual two factors noted above were critical to this crime’s commission: the spread of full-body gear (Nailla’s mother, Latifah Rashid, wears Islamic garb, meaning the abductor could plausibly pretend to be her) and the Bryant school staff deferring to a niqabi (completely ignoring the many rulespertaining to the escorting of a child from school).

This survey of Philadelphia’s crisis prompts several reflections: First, almost any Western city at any time could have Philadelphia’s problems. Second, this is deadly serious issue, involving violent robberies, rapes, and murders. Third, as full-body Islamic covers spread, criminals increasingly depend on them. Fourth, government workers need to surmount their timidity and apply normal procedures even to those wearing full-body covers, even in liquor shops, airports, and elementary schools. Finally, this problem has an obvious solution: ban the niqab and burqa in public places, as the national governments in France and Belgium have recently done.

Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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  • Arlie

    I agree. This should NOT be allowed. I would think law enforcement and businesses would be the first to object I object to them even being in this country in the first place! Last Halloween some policemen dressed in muslim attire as costumes for a party and then someone reported their fun and the officers were put on probation. The University put in special foot baths in the rest rooms for them and places for them to "pray". I do not believe they fit in American culture at all and they never will. Stealth jihad and criminal attire.


      The bathrooms should be open to all people.

      What if people pee in the foot bath?

      • Mary Sue

        i totally would.

      • JoJoJams

        What if? Lol – I never even thought about it – but now that you mention it, if I ever run across one, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

  • Bamaguje

    “this problem has an obvious solution: ban the niqab and burqa in public places, as the national governments in France and Belgium have recently done” – Daniel Pipes.

    America’s Muslim President (BHO) who vociferously defended the Islamic veil in his infamous Cairo speech wouldn’t allow that.

    • adinakutnicki

      One cannot separate the out-sized criminal aspect of Islamic hooded bandits, to the omerta on banning anything Islamic. It really is that simple. In other words, if it became a crime to cover oneself head to toe, stating that it facilitates criminal activity, then the issue would be moot. In other words, would it be acceptable to wear masks, proclaiming this and that "religious" mandate? In fact, the burqua is NOT mandated religiously,

      To be sure, Islamic jihad covers up all manner of crimes against infidels, and that is the real issue –

      Adina Kutnicki Israel

    • PatD

      You don't like American laws and customs DON'T come and LIVE here!!! I live here because I believe this is the best country in the world and the laws are to protect everyone. And how is it that every muslim can effect our laws and when Christianrules are swept aside???? BS send them packing.

  • mike

    This islamic problem is going to get worse much worse if we don't act on it now. This must be presented to our elected officials and the media must be in support of our way of life which is NOT islam!!! We will be taken over if not made aware of this. All islamic nations became islamic by force but in America due to our ignorance it seems like we are willing to just give ourselves away to an enemy with much more stealth. Sad, very sad.

    • santababy

      It is too late. There are already too many of them here and they have infiltrated every aspect of America, our intelligence agencies, the executive, judicial, legislative, and administrative branches of our entire government. They are in our community governments, in our healthcare, in our school systems, and even trying to get into our churches. They made up the word "Islamaphobe" and they are adept at making it work for them in the courts. They have raped our courts with their Sharia law, and I am telling you now, it is too late. There is one living in the White House.

  • figment

    I had heard about the abduction in Philadelphia and the radio announcer made NO mention of the burka. I was wondering how someone could take a child from a public school like that. At the beginning of the year, parents fill out multiple forms regarding who has access to the child and every one visiting the school must sign in and out as well as go thru security door(s).

  • Marc

    We have to take America back. If they don't adhere to our ways and laws, they need to go back. If we don't take America back, we wil wake up one day soon under sharia law.

  • chris gleason

    Banning these garments in public must be done. In the meantime, someone, somewhere must find a backbone and stop catering to these devils. They are riding roughshod over us in every area and they have infiltrated our government. Obama is a closet muslim, so naturally, he will support them.

  • antisharia

    shoot anyone wearing a burqa, there problem solved.

    • eztrader

      Perfect and ultimate solution!

  • CurmudgyOneJr

    We have lost our nation in five short years of a Muslim sympathizer non-citizen masquerading as President.
    God (the REAL ONE) save us all!

    • Ben Jabo

      He's not a sympathizer, he's one of them

  • JacksonPearson

    I agree…
    "Nothing in Islam requires turning females into shapeless, faceless zombies; good sense calls for modesty itself to be modest. The time has come everywhere to ban from public places these hideous, unhealthy, socially divisive, terrorist-enabling, and criminal-friendly garments."
    –Daniel Pipes

  • Alex Kovnat

    "The most violent attack took place on May 3, 2008, when Police Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski was killed with an AK-47 in a shoot-out following a successful robbery using burqas; the police then killed one of the criminals."

    An AK-47? Was said weapon acquired through legal channels, or illegal? If the latter, we can see the likely futility of banning AR15-like weapons.

    • Gee

      The number of crimes committed by using AR15s is almost zero – according to the Department of Justice

  • Raymond in DC

    "As in other cases (three purchases of alcohol in Toronto state liquor stores by a 14-year-old boy in a burqa"

    Did it not occur to the store manager that there was something incongruous about a Muslim wearing such garb buying alcohol? Clearly PC has so taken hold that some have lost common sense. The manager should have been sanctioned for failure to verify the customer's age, which means checking ID card against the face. (Yeah, I'd like to see CAIR Canada try to claim the "right" for Muslims to buy alcohol without an ID check.)

    • Mary Sue

      yeah i know right, but I guess the average joe doesn't realize that to proper garb wearing muslims, alcohol is haram

      • JoJoJams

        And to any average Joe who may read these comments…..Haram means it's not allowed. Alcohol is forbidden – as is pork, and, believe it or not – man's best friend, the dog. Heck, those three things right there are enough to make me find islam a repugnant ideology – in addition to so many other aspects of it.

  • david elder

    Pipes, your article is logical, factual and sensible. So there must be Racism in it somewhere. If only I could figure out where …

  • Boots

    I'm not surprised criminals have figured this out. What surprises me is that this type of activity isn't occurring in Minnesota. We were there on vacation two summers ago and the amount of women wearing traditional Muslim garb was amazing. We were there in June and it had to be terribly uncomfortable to be out during the day. I'm no organizational psychology expert but I'm still baffled about why women, in a free society, allow themselves to be afforded rights less than that of cattle. I've heard the arguments about them "choosing" the burqa but my best guess is they have Stockholm syndrome or they wear the clothes out of fear of their families.

    • Mary Sue

      Yeah, it's a form of semi-religious based stockholm syndrome, often combined with the early stages of Battered Wife Syndrome.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Great article as usual from Prof. Pipes.

  • pinnie

    Off with the halloweenie garb….. plus they smell.

  • john

    One quick way to stop bank robbers is to shoot everyone wearing a niqab.

  • john

    In French it is forbidden to wear a niqab or a burqa, why are they let that kind of people into the country. You never know who walks in a burqa all those should be picked up and send back to Marocco. They should all be marked with a cattle iron in case they show up again.

  • @BostonPoverty

    I don't worry about the burqa. We have the internet. They will talk to you there. And then they come out on the street and no one can tell who is doing what and going where. It does not sound like a great way to control women to me. I see them coming to Revere Beach in the Summer and they totally like to hang around where I'm at. They are in a burqa type thing but with the face showing. I think they're Moroccan or something. You know what creeps me out is east African cliterectomy types walking near the Roxbury Mosque. (Paid for by the Saudis and the city of Boston.) And what happened to those veils that cover just the bottom of the face? Remember Aladdin and His Magic Lamp from when you were a kid?

    The so-called conservatives need to be flexible and have a sense of humor and be ready to make alliances the drug users, gays, promiscuous and hippy types Islam would repress. Right now the vocal Left, gay rights movement and all that is frigid and not fun or sexy anymore. But that is because they are not really fighting for anyone's rights at this time.

    I think America will resist Islam and change Islam by America being America.

  • Phil

    This is serious. The kid who was kidnapped from Bryant school and raped by demented monsters is going to have emotional issues for a long time. The problem is that in trying to be tolerant, America is being destroyed by psychopathic maniacs who consider us to be suckers. No person, no matter what his/her religion is entitled to wear clothing that hides their identity. Yet, we are so afraid of these terrorists that we let it pass and suffer the consequences.

    • a1776patriot

      " No person, no matter what his/her religion is entitled to wear clothing that hides their identity."

      Do you realize this statement makes you sound like an Orwellian progressive leftist?

      If someone wants wear clown makeup and costume all day long in public, the government has no authority to ban it. A private business can refuse to serve me and that is their right. (And I wouldn't blame them, clowns freak me out.)

  • @BostonPoverty

    Islam will only take over if you folks who are usually referred to as conservatives eventually capitulate to it and ally to it. You are going to have to take sides and come over to those Islam seeks to repress. Gays, hippies, druggies, immodest dressers, social liberals, rebellious blacks, barefoot social left, bleeding heart and defense lawyer types, etc.

    • Drakken

      Islam and American Conservatives are pollar opposites of each other, it is rather funny that you leftist ally yourselves wth islamist in order to beat down conservatives, give a islamist an inch, they will take your arm and a mile, I say not one more bloody inch.

  • Endyr

    The US is asleep at the wheel, intoxicated with its shallow materialism and indifference to the principles on which it was founded. Need someone to blame? Get a clue, it’s not the smug political class that sees a revolving door in DC, it’s US. This erosion of principle has ben going on for A LONG TIME. This article speaks to results of a much bigger problem, not the problem itself. Both parents working full time, shipping the kids off to socialist indoctrination camp (public school) has produced wave after wave of pinko young adults who are utterly indifferent to the seriouslness of the highjack and deconstruction of our once great Republic. Generations who now think the office of the president is a popularity contest like American Idol, instead of the solemn and crucial job that it should be. Obama does not represent the people of the US, he seeks to rule us, and he is successful so far. Wake up copper-tops, the notion of freedom and liberty in this country are GONE, a thin imposter to a mechanism underneath that is very close to the government control used in China.

  • blamb61

    Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

    Beheadings? Muslim influence in the last days?

    • JoJoJams

      For sure.

  • Sam Ziselman

    Mr. Pipes (the author of a pair of books I've enjoyed a great deal) makes several keen observations and salient points here, until he comes to the final sentence in this piece. What he proposes we can't and shouldn't do because it would be an overbroad intrusion upon free religious exercise rights in violation of the First Amendment.

    He's pulling a Dianne Feinstein. The provisions contained in the Bill of Rights don't apply only when we find them convenient. You don't like the local sheets parading around in the medieval get ups? Great. There is process for amending the Federal Constitution. Go make it happen. Until such occurs, however, the Muslims are free to engage in religious practices w/o substantial intrusion from the government.

    • JoJoJams

      Sounds good on the surface, Sam, however, what if my religion honoring Gaia and nature (hypothetically speaking) "asked" me to walk around au naturale? Do you think I should be able to walk around naked just because my religion says I should? The feds had no constitutional trouble banning some indian tribes from using peyote in their religious ceremonies. In short, we could easily ban burkas, since many a crime are now being committed using them. Hell, there's been more crimes by burqa than by someone using an AR-15…. We also wouldn't allow Utah into the union until the Mormons gave up their polygamy. There is plenty of precedence for outlawing the burqa. It may be a slippery slope, to some extent – but that's another debate.

  • a1776patriot

    Governement should not be banning people from wearing what they want to wear. Religious reasons or otherwise. Enforce the laws already on the books and if a private business wants to keep out those wearing full body coverings they should be allowed to do so. As for crime on the streets – criminals will always find another way to more easily commit their crimes. Come on folks, if you are against gun-control you need to be consistent here.

  • sheltomlee .