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Friday, August 26, 2016

Islamophobia in Egypt

Egypt drafts bill to ban burqa and Islamic veils in public places

"The Egyptian parliament is drafting a law banning women from wearing the niqab veil. The ban will apply to wearing the clothing in public places and government institutions, it has been reported.

The full-face veil is worn by some followers of Islam and typically covers all of the wearer’s face other than their eyes. The clothing is common in Egypt which is a predominantly Muslim country.

MP Amna Nosseir, professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, who has backed the ban, said that wearing the veil is not a requirement of Islam and in fact has non-Islamic origins. She has argued that it is a Jewish tradition which appeared in the Arabian Peninsula prior to Islam and that a variety of Quran passages contradict its use. Instead, she has advocated that the Quran calls for modest clothing and covered hair, but does not require facial covering.

A number of restrictions have been placed on wearing the niqab in Egypt in recent years. In February, Cairo University banned nurses and doctors from wearing it in medical schools and in teaching hospitals, arguing the ban would: “protect patients’ rights and interests.”

In September of last year, the university also banned academic staff from wearing the niqab in classrooms in response to complaints from students that it was too difficult for niqab wearers to communicate effectively with students."


Sheik of Al Azhar bans face veil

"In Egypt, the senior cleric at one of the Muslim world’s pre-eminent centers of Sunni Islamic teaching has banned female students and teachers from wearing the niqab – the full-face veil – in classrooms and dormitories.

The Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, says the niqab has nothing to do with Islam and is a sign of radicalism. Other Egyptian universities have taken similar positions, prompting civil rights activists to complain that the ban violates students’ rights.

Many Islamic scholars believe that full-face coverings are not a religious requirement, but the modern expression of tribal customs and traditions that predate Islam. Such coverings are common in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, though not in Egypt...

Dia Rashwan, an analyst with the government-run Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, says this is part of an ongoing struggle to define Egypt’s cultural references. In the early 20th century, he says, the debate was over the hijab, the headscarf that is now quite common in Egypt, but was controversial at the time...

“Egypt has many cultures. Some of them come from the Islamic era, others from the Mediterranean, others from the pharaohs. We have to respect them,” he says.

The niqab debate has produced strange bedfellows, with civil rights advocates standing with the Islamists in defense of a woman’s right to cover her face."
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