Egypt bans face-covering niqabs in schools; hijab left to students’ choicetext_fields
Cairo: The Egyptian government has officially banned the wearing of the face-covering niqab in schools, effective from the beginning of the next academic term starting on 30 September.
The decision was announced by Education Minister Reda Hegazy on Monday, who emphasized that students would still retain the right to wear a headscarf but must not obscure their faces in any way.
Minister Hegazy also underscored the importance of ensuring that a student's choice to wear or not wear a headscarf should be made independently, free from any external influence or pressure.
He urged educators, particularly those teaching Arabic language, religious studies, and social and psychological education, to approach the implementation of this policy with kindness and sensitivity, taking into consideration the students' psychological well-being and age appropriateness.
The niqab, a traditional garment worn by Muslim women for centuries, holds deep religious significance for many.
The government's decision to prohibit niqabs in schools has prompted strong reactions on social media platforms. While some individuals have vehemently opposed the ban, others have expressed their support for it, reflecting the deeply polarized opinions within Egyptian society.
Critics of the ban argue that it infringes upon religious freedoms guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and is a violation of civil liberties. They assert that the state should not dictate individuals' religious attire choices.
It is worth noting that several public and private institutions across Egypt have already enforced bans on the niqab. Cairo University, for instance, implemented a ban on face veils for teaching staff in 2015, a rule that was subsequently upheld by an Egyptian court in 2020.