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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora