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Alaa al Aswany, author of the remarkable novel, “The Yacoubian Building,” from which a very good 2006 film was made, has a nice piece in the NY Times about observations over the dentist chair.

“If you need my wife to remove her niqab, then you can stay — but the others have to leave the room right now.”

“Those in the room are not here to look at your wife’s face,” I replied. “They are dental assistants and they are indispensable.

“Furthermore, if your wife turns out to have an exposed nerve, she will be treated by our specialist, who is a Christian.”

I uttered this last phrase with a dramatic flourish and then stepped back. The man grabbed his wife as if to leave, but to our surprise, she refused.

They exchanged whispers, which turned to shouting, and we understood that the poor woman was distressed by the fact that her husband’s extremist views were preventing her getting treatment.

This made me realize that many women we’d considered fundamentalists were simply prisoners of their husbands’ dogmatism.