Do you know the difference between a hijab, niqab or burka?

Credit: PA

Boris Johnson's controversial comparison of burkas to letterboxes has brought the topic of Islamic dress to the fore of public attention.

The phrase "burka ban" is often used as a blanket term for Muslim head-wear, when in fact there are several types of the garment.

So, do you know your burka from niqab, and your al-amira from your hijab?

  • Hijab

In the West, the hijab is the most common type of head-wear worn by Muslim women.

The word hijab actually describes the general term for women covering up, but more often than not refers to scarves wrapped around the head.

The word hijab also describes the notion of covering up. Credit: AP

Hijabs come in different styles and colours.

While the neck and head are normally covered by the hijab, the face is left clear.

  • Niqab

Fail veils such as the niqab are banned in a number of European countries. Credit: AP

The target of many veil bans across European countries has been the niqab, the veil Mr Johnson was referring to in his column for The Telegraph.

The niqab is a face veil that just leaves space clear for the eyes.

The niqab just leaves space for the eyes. Credit: AP

It is most often worn in Arab countries, but more and more Muslim women in the West are choosing to wear it.

When the term "burka ban" is the used in the press, sometimes it is specifically referring to the niqab.

  • Burka

Burkas are the most restrictive form of Islamic head-wear. Credit: AP

The burka is the most restrictive form of head-wear for women, with the whole of the face, neck and head covered up.

With a traditional burka, a mesh screen around the eyes allows for sight.

This form of burka is traditionally associated with countries in South Asia, such as Afghanistan, and rarely, if ever, seen in the UK.

A woman walking wearing a burka in Bradford. Credit: PA

In Britain, the a burka can mean something entirely different.

If a woman is wearing a form of headscarf along with a cloak or garment that covers the body down to the ground, the term burka is then used.

  • Bans on the burka

Burkas and niqabs are restricted in some European countries. Credit: PA

In addition, there are other forms of head-wear beyond those already listed, including the shayla, khimar and chador.

Across Europe, a number of countries have varying degrees of bans the Islamic head-wear.

These include:

  • Netherlands: Face-covering clothing banned in public places (not streets)

  • Belgium: Public ban on clothing obscuring identity of wearer

  • France: Face-covering head-wear banned in public

  • Denmark: Full ban on niqabs and burkas

  • Germany: Face-covering items banned for soldiers, state workers, among others

  • Austria: Face-covering items banned in public

  • Bulgaria: Public ban on items 'partially or fully' covering face