The production, sale and import of burqa have been reportedly banned in Morocco for “security reasons”. Although there is no official announcement, the country’s Interior Ministry on Monday gave a 48-hour deadline to all tailors and retailers to get rid of their current stock, according to Morocco World News.

“We have taken measures to completely ban the import, manufacture and marketing of this garment in all cities and towns in the kingdom,” a ministry official said. He added that “bandits have repeatedly used this garment to perpetrate their crimes”.

The decision has received mixed responses. While preacher Hammad Kabbaj said the ban was “unacceptable”, former family and social development minister Nouzha Skalli called it “an important step in the fight against religious extremism”, according to BBC. However, the Northern Moroccan National Observatory for Human Development said the “arbitrary” move curtailed women’s freedom of expression.

The ban will apply only to full-face covering burqas. But most women in this North African country wear the hijab, or headscarf, which does not cover the face, reported Al Jazeera.

The burqa has also been at the centre of political discussions in other major European countries, recently. In August, the highest administrative court in France temporarily suspended a ban on burkinis, saying it “seriously, and clearly illegally” breached several fundamental freedoms, including “the freedom of beliefs and individual freedom”. The issue has also prompted a debate on secularism, with some accusing politicians of using the issue for electoral gains. In December last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a burqa ban in the country.