In the news today: a senior Islamic cleric Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi in Egypt has claimed that the niqab (a veil that fully covers women’s faces) ‘has nothing to do with Islam’.
He’s also banned the wearing of these veils in the gender segregated classrooms of al-Azahr institutions, which includes schools (basic and secondary) and a University (I couldn’t tell from the report whether this applied to the schools as well as the universities). They can still be worn in gender mixed parts of the institution.
This appears to be a case which highlights
i) the separating out of culture and religion, and different individuals’ understanding of both,
ii) the potetial difficulties of regulating dress. Although the stated goal is to “spread trust, harmony … and the correct understanding of religion among girls”, this will be difficult to achieve if, in the first instance, the regulation serves to limit the participation of women who would otherwise have worn the niqab.
It isn’t clear to what extent this will be enforced, and a total ban has been ruled unconstitutional.