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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid