Morocco is reportedly preparing to introduce a ban on burqa imports and sales because of security fears.
Le360, a news site close to the Moroccan Interior Ministry, quoted an unidentified ministry official who confirmed the ban on the sale of the garment, which is often blue and covers the head. Women living in Salafist circles, and in more conventional areas in the north, are more likely to put on the niqab, which exposes the area around the eyes.
A senior official at the Ministry of Interior said the burqa, which is worn by some Muslim women, is hereby banned in the country.
There was no official declaration from the government, but unnamed representatives told outlets the order was passed due to "security concerns".
The Interior Ministry did not return requests for comment.
"It's unsurprising given the current security context and the concern the government has with maintaining security and stability and cracking down on the terrorists' networks".
In the southern city of Taroudant, law enforcement officials forced traders to stop producing and selling the burqas and to get rid of their stock within 48 hours.
Nouzha Skalli, the previous family and social development minister, appreciated the ban as "an important step in the fight against religious extremism".
Relatively few Moroccan women wear the burqa, which is much more common in conservative Muslim societies like Afghanistan and Pakistan, but many do wear traditional dresses and head scarves.
Yet, for the majority of Moroccans, the burqa is not actually a Moroccan garment, but rather a compulsory full veil imposed on women by jihadist groups.
"[The ban is an] arbitrary decision that is an indirect violation of women's freedom of expression and wearing what reflects their identities or their religious, political or social beliefs", the Northern Moroccan National Observatory for Human Development said in a statement, according to the BBC.
One pro-burqa preacher, Hammad Kabbaj, who has been barred from running for office because of his links to extremist Muslims, and questioned why the birqa can be banned but the Western-style swimsuits are not.