Egypt bans wearing of niqab in schools

The Egyptian government has announced a ban on the wearing of the face-covering niqab in schools as of the beginning of the next term in late September.

Education Minister Reda Hegazy made the announcement on Monday, adding that students would still have the right to choose whether to wear a headscarf, but insisted it must not cover their faces.

He also stated that the child’s guardian should be aware of their choice, and that it must have been made without any outside pressure.

“Here, the role of the teachers of the Arabic language, religious education, and social and psychological education, will be to prepare the students psychologically to implement the ministry’s decision with all kindness and gentleness, taking into account the students’ psychological state and their age level,” he said in a statement.

There has been an ongoing debate over the wearing of the niqab in schools for many years in Egypt.

The garment has been worn by Muslim women for religious reasons across the world for centuries.

Some in Egypt associate it with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group banned as a terrorist organisation since 2013, the same year a Brotherhood-backed elected government was overthrown in a military coup.

Rights group have argued that the Egyptian constitution protects religious freedoms and restricting the niqab is a violation of civil liberties.

A number of public and private institutions across Egypt already impose bans on the wearing of the niqab.

Cairo University has banned the wearing of face veils by teaching staff since 2015, a rule that was upheld by an Egyptian court in 2020.

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