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Egypt Students Decry Niqab Restrictions

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Egypt Students Decry Niqab Restrictions

Post by .:Hibat Allah:. on Sat Oct 10, 2009 7:10 pm

Egypt Students Decry Niqab Restrictions

CAIRO — Students in government-run higher educational institutions
are decrying restrictions on the wearing of face-veils in the
Muslim-majority Arab country.

"I don't understand their point of view," Heba, a Cairo University
student, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, October 6, after
being denied access to the university’s girls hostel for wearing the
niqab.

She insisted that the restrictions, which are not yet declared as an official ban, are justifiable.

"If it's for security, we can lift the niqab for security and show them our IDs."

Outside one the university's female residences, students said they had
been stopped at the gates when they tried to enter wearing face veils.

Some have written an official complaint and planned to lodge it with the university authorities.

"From a security standpoint, the niqabs weren't a problem for us," a
security guard who has been ordered to bar women from entering the
residence wearing a niqab told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"They would show their faces when asked. I was surprised by the decision," he added.

"If you want reasons, ask the education ministry."

But an Education Ministry spokesman insisted there was no such ban.

“There is absolutely no ban against students wearing the niqab," Adli Reda told AFP.

He said the orders were to have the students show their faces when asked for identification.

Concerns

But Hossam Bahgat, of the rights watchdog the Egyptian Initiative for
Personal Rights, said he had received complaints from students banned
from entering Cairo University residences because they were wearing the
niqab.

Analysts believe that the government’s stance on niqab is not simply based on security concerns.

"There is a secular trend in government, and the niqab is against that," Diaa
Rashwan, a leading expert on political Islam in the Ahram Centre for
Political and Strategic Studies, a local think tank, told AFP.

Most Muslim women in Egypt wear the hijab, which is an obligatory code
of dress in Islam, but an increase in women putting on the niqab has
apparently alarmed the government.

The ministry of religious endowments has recently distributed booklets
in mosques against the practice while the health ministry reportedly
wants to ban doctors and nurses from wearing it.

"There are (also) government concerns about Salafism,"

Salafis put the emphasis on spreading the puritan creed of emulating the practices and beliefs of early Muslims.

They are reportedly gaining more grounds in many Muslim countries,
particularly Egypt, and have major theological differences with
Al-Azhar, the highest seat of religious learning in the Sunni world.

"Al-Azhar has always had a cautious dislike towards other trends that challenge its legitimacy," Rashwan said.

Al-Azhar, like the majority of Muslim scholars, says a woman is not
obliged to cover her face or hands while Salafis insist she must.

Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi, Egypt’s top religious authority, earlier
this week vowed to ban niqab in all schools affiliated to Al-Azhar.

Egypt Students Decry Niqab Restrictions - IslamOnline.net - News






















Rashwan notes.




















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