As they sipped coffee, Amy asked, “You don’t cover your face, but some women do. Any reason for the difference?”
“Covering your face is optional. If I was going to the mosque, I would cover it. Sharia law can be ambiguous, but still is enforced by the matawi—that’s the name of our religious police. Their official title is the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. Fortunately, their power was clipped and they aren’t in the Empty Quarter.”
“They go around all day monitoring dress?” Amy asked.
Hassa laughed. “They have a bunch of responsibilities, like seeing businesses are closed during prayer call. But if you’re in a store or restaurant, you can be served, you just can’t leave until prayer call ends. They banned Barbie dolls and are against black magic, which has come from African Muslims. What we call fate, or say is written, the Africans call magic.”
“How do I recognize them?”
Hassa poured more coffee. “Look at their beards. They are long and unkempt. But don’t worry; you’re dressed fine and their power is cut.”
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