Cairo University, one of the oldest Higher Education institutions in Egypt, has issued an official ban against female faculty members wearing a niqab (face veil) while teaching at the university.
According to Cairo Post, the ban was put into full effect on Tuesday, after the President of Cairo University, Gaber Nassar, issued this statement, ‘It is not permissible for female members of the teaching staff and their assistants in all university colleges and institutes to give theoretical or practical lectures or attend laboratory or practical training while wearing the niqab.’
He further stated this decision was made in order to ‘facilitate communicating with students and to provide [an] appropriate educational process.’
This ban is expected to stir controversy within both the university and the public sphere. Many organisations and notable figures have already started sharing their views on the ban.
According to AlBawaba, director of “Our Right”, a human rights organisation, Ahmed Aboul Magd, said that this decision has a political dimension and that the university’s ‘compass is adjusted based on who is in power in the country.’ Aboul Magd states the university should have fixed regulations that should not shift in conjunction with political affairs.
Professor Mohamed Kamel of Beni Suef University spoke to Al-Masry El Youm after the news of the ban. Kamel said that the ban is, ‘racist to a particular dress code that doesn’t conflict with the law or social traditions.’
On the other end of the spectrum, some figures applauded the decision to ban the veil in the university. According Aswat Masrya, Mona Abdel-Radi, co-founder of the National Front for Egypt’s Women, supported the decision to ban. She stated that similar procedures should be applied in schools and other public institutions. She further stated that the niqab is a personal choice and no one should be asked to take it off, however, people that are in direct contact with the public should not be wearing a niqab.
This ban may be the first of its kind to be implemented in any university around Egypt — public or private. However, this is not the first time that Cairo University has stirred controversy regarding the niqab.
According to Egypt Independent, in 2011, Cairo University’s then president Hossam Kamel was sentenced in absentia to three months in prison for declining to carry out an Administrative Court ruling which ordered him to reverse a previous decision that he had taken to ban faculty members from lecturing while wearing the niqab. Also in 2011, the university banned women wearing the face-veil from attending mid-term exams, to prevent cheating.
All information gathered from Cairo Post, AlBawba, Al-Masry Al Youm, and Aswat Masrya
Featured photo credits go to: Islamization Blog