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Egyptians Are Divided Over The Recent Niqab Ban In Schools

Posted: September 13, 2023 at 8:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

According to state-run media, the Egyptian government bans female students from wearing the face-covering niqab in class. This ban has been in discussion in the Egyptian parliament since 2021.

On Monday, Education Minister Hegazy stated that the students can decide to cover their hair while in class. However, the statement also revealed that their hair coverings can’t conceal their faces.

“Any form of hair covering that contravenes the condition of the face being visible is not acceptable, and the hair covering should be in the color chosen by the ministry and local education directorate,” she stated.

The regulation will take effect on September 30, the first day of classes, and will continue until June 8, 2024.

Mixed Reactions To The Niqab Ban

Critics of the new clothing code quickly took to social media to accuse the government of interfering with women’s rights.

“Let women wear whatever they deem fit. We want a free & equal world for women to decide on what to wear without the state interfering with it,” a user called Zainab Dabo wrote on X, formally known as Twitter.

Although most Egyptian women wear the headscarf, the niqab is still in the minority in this predominantly Muslim nation.

Ahmed Moussa, a talk-show presenter and staunch admirer of Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s administration, lauded the announcement as “an important first step towards destroying extremism and correcting the situation in education, which has become a hideout for Muslim Brotherhood terrorist groups”. In 2013, Mr. Sissi removed President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the government called a “terrorist” organization.
However, for other internet users, the educational problems in the nation of 105 million people wracked by inflation lie elsewhere. According to a 33-year-old marketing manager from Alexandria, this blurs what should be a “transparent” teaching process.

“Anything that obscures teachers from properly reading the student’s body language and facial expression to be able to help them or show necessary attention should not be allowed at schools,” he stated.

Another Alexandria resident agreed with the ban, stating that its execution is vital for security reasons.

“School authorities should be able to identify people going in and out of schools,” the 38-year-old architect said. He added that niqab-wearing students tend to feel alienated in mixed schools. The niqab ban could lead some parents to move their kids from segregated to female-only schools.

A Feminist Issue

Conversely, a 45-year-old Cairo writer believes the government’s move is the latest example of how society treats women as “punching bags… socially, politically, and economically.”

“Doesn’t matter under what pretext or none… Females always pull the short straw,” she stated. “A story as old as time and one that continues to be written, many applaud/decry it depending on which lens they have slapped on to see the world.”

“With France banning the abaya and burkini, Egypt following suit with the niqab ban, the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, and the Taliban continuing to severely constrain and constrict females from basically living,” she continued, “the policing of women’s bodies continues.”

According to various rights groups, the Egyptian constitution guarantees religious freedoms. Limiting the niqab could be a breach of human liberties.

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