On Second Thought

Australia Lifts Brief Ban on Veils

Australia’s parliament on Monday reversed a decision that would have prohibited women wearing facial coverings, such as burqas and niqabs, from entering open public galleries in the House of Representatives and Senate, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott intervened. Just this month, the government department that runs Parliament House announced the ban against “persons with facial coverings,” saying they would instead be assigned to galleries where they could sit behind soundproof glass. But hours before parliament was to resume Monday, the department announced the ban had been rescinded. It emerged that Abbott had asked the speaker of the house to reconsider. The ban was part of efforts to increase overall security amid growing concern over terrorism by Islamic extremists, including ISIS.