Egypt under fire over face-veil ban

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SHAFAQNA – Seventy-seven niqab-wearing faculty members from across Cairo University are preparing to file a law suit against the university president, a lawyer involved in the case told Aswat Masriya.

Ahmed Mahran, the head of the Cairo Center for Political and Legal Studies said the complainants asked him to raise a case against university president Gaber Nassar because of his decision last week to ban niqab-wearing faculty from teaching.

Mahran said the group included women who do not wear the niqab (full face veil) but were involved in solidarity with those who were harmed by the ban.

Cairo University administration said last Tuesday at the time that “it is not permitted for female faculty … in all colleges and institutes, to give lectures, tutorials, attend labs or deliver scientific training while wearing the niqab.”

The niqab is viewed by ultra-conservative Muslims as a sign of modesty. The vast majority of women in Egypt, however, do not wear it.

Procedures to file the case before the Administrative Court will start on Saturday, Mahran said.

Cairo University is the oldest higher education institution in Egypt.

Nassar said the decision to ban niqab-wearing faculty was taken for the benefit of the educational process and the public interest.

He argued that his decision is based on Law 49 of 1972 and decree 809 of 1975, which give him the right to issue executive regulatory by-laws, explaining that he has shared his proposal with the deans of all Cairo University faculties.

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