Steve Hendrix profiles Safiyyah Abdullah, a Washington-area woman who started to wear the full veil, or niqab, shortly after converting to Islam in 1975. Since, Hendrix writes, her “daily outings have been a mix of harassment and compassion, comfort and alienation.”

The niqab is viewed as a repressive garment by some Muslims, who are applauding France’s recent ban on the veil, while to others it is a deeply important religious symbol. What do you think? Is the niqab repressive, even if a woman wears it by choice?