The discourse on whether Muslim women should cover their faces with a niqab- a veil worn by women that cover most of the wearer’s face- has been going on for a while now.
It seems like the discussion is not going to end anytime soon, especially in Egypt where local lawmakers are pushing for the ban of the niqab.
The pro-government Egypt Support Coalition, a group of lawmakers, unveiled a controversial plan for drafting a bill to present to parliament that bars Muslim women from wearing the veil in the predominantly Muslim country.
The Egyptian lawmakers told local media that if enforced, the law will keep women from wearing a niqab in public places or in institutions.
Speaking to Gulf News, Amna Nuseir, a member of the group said: “we seek to spread moderate Islam. The niqab is not an Islamic duty.”
Nuseir, an MP in the alliance and a professor of Islamic creed at the Islamic Al-Azhar University argued that the “costume is part of Judaism and spread in the Arabian Peninsula before Islam.” She added that although Islam commands decent dressing, it did not impose the niqab.
Nuseir is part of those opposing the niqab and told Gulf News that she will be taking part in drafting the relevant law before it is presented to the legislature.
This comes after Cairo University, Egypt’s main public academic institution barred its female teachers from wearing the niqab inside its campuses.
In January, a court upheld the university’s ban.
Since the army’s 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi, the current government through president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has been trying to distant itself from the Muslim brotherhood. This is in an effort to prohibit the appearance of masked faces in public.
The reception of niqab elsewhere in the globe
In June 2015, following two suicide bomb attacks, Chad’s government banned people from wearing the full-face veil.
The attack left more than people 20 dead. Chad’s prime minister, Kalzeubet Pahimi, said the veil was used as a “camouflage" by the attackers.
Earlier, in January 2015, Muslim women were barred from wearing the burqa, a version of the veil that covers the entire face by the Chinese city of Urumqi in the western Xinjiang region.
In 2004, France prohibited students in public schools from displaying any form of religious symbols crosses, Jewish skullcaps or veils. Further, in 2011, the country also forbade concealment of a person's face in public by using niqab or burqa.
Following in the footsteps of France, the Belgian parliament passed a bill banning full-face veils in 2011. The lawmakers argued the veil was banned due to security reasons as well as claims that the attire is a tool of oppression.
Other areas where the ban has been imposed include Italy, Spain, Russia and Switzerland.
The ban on veils has been adopted by many institutions and governments citing security concerns. With rising insecurity in the world, the ban is expected to be replicated in other countries in the future.
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