News / Middle East

Libya's Grand Mufti Wants to Veil Female Teachers

FILE - Men walk past mannequins modelling veils in Tripoli.
FILE - Men walk past mannequins modelling veils in Tripoli.
A new fatwa by Libya’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, saying that all women teachers must veil their faces when instructing males who have reached puberty has prompted the anger of liberal activists, who fear this is the start of widespread educational gender segregation.

Libya’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani made the fatwa following a request from the Ministry of Education for advice on the issue as some schools had started to order women teachers to cover up.
 
The mufti stopped short of saying that there should be total gender segregation but he counseled the ideal solution would be to segregate male and females altogether in schools and universities.

The ruling has outraged liberal women activists. One of them, Nareen, who asked that her family name to be withheld, said this is a backwards step. “I am very upset. I think it is a huge step back. It is very sad to see this is the way our education system is going. That they are looking back at segregating women, men and children,” she said.
 
Rebel leaders appointed al-Ghariani as grand mufti during the uprising against ex-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He had held the post under Gadhafi as well.

But Libya’s reformers have become increasingly frustrated with what they see as the mufti’s meddling in politics. He wields semi-official influence and his fatwas don’t have the force of law, But they can shape government policy.
 
A Sunni Muslim country where religious observance underpins every social norm, Libya has been struggling with its Arab Spring transition to democracy. Liberals, like Nareen, fear they are losing ground to Islamists who want to make the country more conservative.
 
“It is a long-term political agenda because when you want to change a nation you target education because you are breeding the future generations," said Nareen. "And so you target education because that’s when you are ingraining what the future will be so targeting the schools they are sowing the seeds of the future they want.”
 
Earlier in the year the mufti issued an open letter to the country’s politicians warning that unless strict gender segregation was imposed at schools, universities and even in government offices, Libya risked incurring the wrath of Allah.
 
In this week’s fatwa, he said children and students must at least be segregated during break times -- in playgrounds, corridors and halls -- and there should be separate entrances for boys and girls. Girls shouldn’t wear make-up or use perfume.

Another liberal activist, Leila, said Islamists are moving incrementally.  “They are waiting for the reaction that’s going to be. That is their way to try taking over. Taking slowly by slowly,” she said.
 
She said many activists are fearful because when they speak out they receive threats or are warned off.  “They target the families. They target your families just to silence you, shut you up. What they are doing is like an octopus their hands are everywhere, here and here and here and there,” said Leila.
 
The Ministry of Education will now have to decide what overall instruction they should give schools. And the nation’s human rights groups worry that the mufti’s fatwa will provoke Islamic vigilantes.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Empress Trudy
October 16, 2013 2:38 PM
Good news. We need to help them embrace their quaint and ancient indigenous culture no matter what. Sharia for Libya, it can't happen soon enough.
In Response

by: mudarrisa from: Tripoli, Libya
November 09, 2013 6:07 PM
I can only presume you are being ironic. Libya's indigenous culture never covered their faces. Covering your face, especially while teaching, would be a NEW thing. As the article also states.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs