News / Middle East

Top Egyptian Female Lawmaker Calls for Banning Niqab

A top Egyptian woman parliament member is calling for a law to ban the niqab, a mask-like veil, because she says it is "un-Islamic" and prevents women from participating in society.

A top woman member of Egypt's People's Assembly, Zeinab Radwan, is calling for a law to ban the niqab, a full face-covering veil, from being worn in Egypt.

Radwan argues that the niqab is not "authentically Islamic," in addition to posing a security threat and questions of personal freedom.

She says because women are able to hide their faces and identities with the niqab it is impossible for government institutions to fight either terrorism or ordinary crime.

The issue of wearing the niqab has been the subject of widespread debate in Egypt in recent months, since a much publicized visit by the late head of al-Azhar Mosque and University, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, to a girls' school in which he urged the students to remove their niqabs.

After heated discussion in the Egyptian press, Tantawi clarified that he, as the head of al-Azhar, was not forbidding the niqab in every instance, but just in government institutions, and schools:

He says that al-Azhar is not against women wearing the niqab in their personal lives, with respect to their behavior, their habits, its legality, its usage, and of buying or selling it. But he said al-Azhar is against this right in other specific cases.

A strong backlash from Egypt's banned, but popular Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other extremist Islamic groups was felt after many of their leaders defended the niqab. Sheikh Mohammed Hassan expresses the point of view of many hardliners:

He asks why it is that, what he calls, respectable women employees who wear the niqab are being stopped at the doors of government institutions or universities, just because they want to express their personal freedom? What shame is there in wearing the niqab, he asks, and why is it that we forbid these honorable women from entering and call them criminals or extremists, while we do not forbid unveiled women?

The editor of al-Ahram's monthly magazine Democracy, Hala Mustafa, says the Egyptian government needs to act against the niqab, because it poses a security threat:

"Because this phenomena is growing, the government took some steps in order to stop this, especially in universities and some government establishments, in order to clarify the identity of the person, because many crimes have been committed under this niqab and we do not know the person behind it," she said. "And, I think any state has the right to put its own regulations that is compatible with its law and constitution. So, this has nothing to do with personal freedom or liberties. It is about security and public order of the state."

Mustafa says the niqab is not authentically Islamic, but rather a vestige of more strict societies in the Gulf:

"The niqab, or the full veil for women, it is not from the Islamic teachings," she said. "It is more a tradition that comes from conventional culture and societies such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Gulf States in general."

The niqab was virtually unknown in Egypt until the 1990s, when many Egyptian workers in the Gulf began compelling their wives to wear it. The niqab is now a visible and growing phenomenon on the streets of Cairo and in other Egyptian cities.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs