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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More