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Egyptian Parliament Close to Banning Niqab | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Niqab-clad women line up to vote during a 2014 election. Mohammed Abed/AFP

Cairo- A number of Egyptian lawmakers announced on Friday that they would soon refer to the parliament a draft-law that prevents women from wearing the niqab in state institutions.

The lawmakers asserted that “such a law was necessary for security reasons and as a preventive measure to confront terrorism and extremism.”

The Board of State Commissioners recommended the Supreme Administrative Court to issue a final decision in support of banning academic staff from wearing the niqab in all of Cairo’s state universities.

The number of women wearing the full niqab veil in Egypt has increased dramatically in the past years particularly with the rise of the political Islam movements.

Cairo University has in the past two years been placing a number of restrictions on wearing the niqab, banning women wearing the full-face veil inside its affiliated hospitals.

Earlier, an official decision was issued to ban the niqab inside classrooms, a move supported by the Supreme Administrative Court.

In 2009, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University banned the niqab during exams. The decision is not applicable anymore.

Observers expect that lawmakers from the political Islam movements and the Nour party would strongly object the draft-law.

However, parliamentary sources said: “The full-face veil represents a threat to state security and personal freedom. Women wearing the niqab are capable to hide their faces and make it impossible for anti-terrorism state institutions to uncover their identities.”

The sources added: “Several crimes and terrorist bombings were committed by men wearing this outfit. Those were capable to hide behind the niqab to escape security measures.”

The sources said Islam does not demand that women wear a niqab. “Covering the face is a not a Muslim tradition.”

The niqab, commonly worn in Egypt, consists of covering a woman’s head and her face, but only leaves the eyes visible.