Ah, the hijab, and its close cousins the niqab and the burqa; these articles of clothing are most associated with Middle-Eastern Muslim maidens (for their modesty). They also have the distinctive properties of being 1. Extremely common in certain locations and 2. Face-concealing. This means that if you as a fictional character are on the lam in Qurac, running through the ubiquitous out-door marketplaces in an attempt to dodge your pursuers by leaping over apple-carts, you have a perfect means of evading capture: Simply don one of those big, black outfits the women are wearing, and vanish right into the crowd. (Actually being a woman is optional.) Just how you're supposed to come by one of these is not important. How you find one in your size is even less so. The important thing is that you can hide your face without drawing the kind of attention a mask or hood would bring down on you, and make yourself harder to find than Where's Waldo?. And really, besides tipping off the audience that the scene takes place in the Middle East, isn't this the only reason these clothes exist?
ExamplesAnime and Manga
- Lupin III: In one episode, Lupin and his gang steal burqas to hide from Inspector Zenigata. Zenigata tracks them to a well where women are doing the laundry. Finding the gang's discarded clothes, he forces the women there to remove their veils, and promptly subverts the trope when its revealed the ladies are actual ladies, who promptly make their displeasure known with wooden laundry mallets. Later in the episode, it's played straight when the gang actually does disguise themselves in burqas. Afraid of getting beaten again, Zenigata lets them go without an inspection.
- This was done by Luke Cage and Danny Rand in a Power Man and Iron Fist issue; part of the gag was that the cover advertised "dancing girls" without mentioning just who those "girls" were.
- Tintin and Captain Haddock sneak past Kuweit guards while wrapped up and balancing urns on their heads in Black Gold. The captain trips, nearly swears, and manages to keep the urn balanced to the guards' unhidden admiration. Later at a well they meet another robed woman who questions them in Arabic. When neither answers, she rips off the (bearded) captain's veil. Who starts yelling at her as Snowy pops out of the urn and starts barking at her. Fortunately they escape before the guards can find them.
- Done once in Zero Dark Thirty, used to capture someone. (Details needed)
- In White Sun of the Desert, Black Abdullah uses this trick to get the drop on Petrukha (a Red Army soldier and Comrade Sukhov's sidekick) and kill him.
- Epically done in Jackie Chan's The Accidental Spy. While being pursued by enemy agents, he notices large swathes of cloth hanging from rafters, which he acrobatically wraps around him. See for yourself.
- Reese does this in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle after he's joined the army and is lost in Afghanistan.
- Done in an early episode of Community where Shirley's two children hide in a burqa so that Abed's cousin to in the bouncy-castle without Abed's disapproving father noticing that she's gone.
- The presenters from Top Gear try this in Syria in order to not be recognized. It didn't work.
James: (After finding out it didn't work) I've appeared on television in drag for nothing!
- Doonesbury: While in Afghanistan Hedley disguises himself this way, it triggers quite a few jokes.
- Funky Winkerbean: During Wally's escape from his Afghan tribal captors he was taken in by an orphan girl who dressed him up in a burqa to hide him from said tribe.
- Parodied on Family Guy, where two cops end up chasing Brian through an inexplicable marketplace and find what seems to be Brian in a burqa, only to discover it's actually just an ugly woman.
- On The Wild Thornberrys, although Eliza isn't actually running from anyone, she does use a veil in order to switch places with a friend in one episode. The disguise is impenetrable until said friend confesses to the ruse.
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