‘The Blackberry burqa means that people can still use their phones,’ said a Saudi government official, ‘but the tiny niqab that covers the screen will stop them from reading emails or accessing the Internet.’
The introduction of the burqa is intended to conceal the Blackberry from unwanted attention. With the veil in place only a tiny slit remains revealing just the time and date, thus preserving its modesty.
‘This is not about censorship or oppression,’ said UAE telecommunications regulator Mohammed al-Ghanem, ‘this is about preserving the essential purity of the Blackberry and protecting it from being corrupted.’
Some businessmen believe that making their phone wear a burqa can be very liberating. ‘It’s great,’ said one, ‘with the veil in place I am free to walk about with my Blackberry in public without the feeling that people are staring lustily at my multi-media application. It also covers my shame for not owning an iPhone.’
Some religious groups have welcomed the policy. ‘If Allah had meant us to freely access the Internet He would have given us web browsers in our heads,’ said a local imam, adding ‘There is absolutely no mention of instant messaging in the Koran and at no point did Muhammad, or any of his eleven wives, ever say LOL, ROFL or PMSL.’
If the Blackberry burqa is successful it may spread to other countries. However, experts say that dressing your phone in a burqa could result in poor reception, especially in France and Belgium.
The British government has yet to declare an official line on phone burqas although Immigration Minister Damian Green said that to ban them would be ‘very unBritish’. He went on to explain that, ‘the British thing to do, as always, is to grumble and tut.’
The Saudi government have promised that anyone who refuses to dress their Blackberry in a burqa will face harsh punishment. ‘I am not saying exactly what we will do,’ said their Minister for Justice, ‘but suffice to say that it isn’t so easy to text with your toes.’
3rd August 2010