State Commissioners Authority says niqab ban violates personal freedom
CAIRO – 20 February 2019: Egypt's State Commissioners Authority recommended rejecting the lawsuit demanding banning women from wearing niqab (face veils) in public places, considering it as a matter of personal freedom.
Niqab is a piece of cloth some devout Muslim women prefer to wear to cover their face, while some think it is obligatory.
The SCA said in a statement that niqab cannot be moved from being permissible to being absolutely prohibited. It added that covering Muslim women's faces, although not obligatory according to many Islamic opinions, is allowed in Islam.
The administrative authority or any other party cannot completely prohibit wearing the niqab, the statement said, adding that a woman is entitled to wear whatever dress she thinks appropriate for her.
The statement affirmed that not imposing a ban on niqab in Egypt conforms to law.
The niqab case has sparked widespread controversy in Egypt, as a number of lawmakers have earlier submitted bills requiring the state to pass a ban.
Gaber Nassar, former Cairo University president, in an interview with Egypt Today, called for banning niqab in all public places nationwide, considering it a political theme in the first place.
Also, a bill submitted by MP Ghada Ajami imposes a fine of LE 1,000 ($56.8) on women who wear the niqab or ‘face veil’ in public places like restaurants, parks or universities. The fine fee will increase with repeated offense. The bill was officially handed to Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal in November.
Ajami argued that the face veil had become a source of sedition in the Egyptian society. "It aims to change the moderate character of Islam in Egypt and reflects the extremist ideology of Salafi (ultraconservative) movements, not to mention that it has split society into those with niqab and those without," Ajami told local press.
On the other hand, a wide number of parliamentarians rejected the draft law, saying that the ban violates public freedoms, and that it may lead to further divisions and strife in the Egyptian society.