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Egyptian Parliament Rejects a Proposal to Ban the Niqab


Hind Ahmas leaves the court after being convicted as the first woman wearing a niqab after France’s nationwide ban on the wearing of face veils on September 22, 2011 in Meaux, France. Getty

It was just last month that the United Nations called on France to review its ban on the niqab – but Egypt doesn’t look like it will have that problem. The North African country’s parliament has rejected a draft law to ban wearing the full-face Islamic veil over concerns it would violate public freedom, according to Egypt Independent. The proposal had been put before Egypt’s House of Representatives by MP Ghada Agami, the publication adds, and sought to forbid government sector employees – including those working in education – from wearing the niqab.

France became the first nation to outlaw the niqab and burqa back in 2011, and similar legislation has since followed in the Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium. Just last month, female civil servants in Algeria were prohibited from wearing the niqab or burqa, according to a new directive from Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia.

However, France’s crackdown on the full-face Islamic veil was deemed a “violation of human rights” by the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee in October. After receiving complaints by two French Muslim women, both fined for wearing a full-body veil or niqab, the committee ruled in their favor, urging that the women be compensated. French legislation prohibits the wearing of face-covering garments, such as the niqab, helmets, and balaclavas, in public, and those caught breaking the law can be fined up to €150 (AED 630).

The ban risks “confining [women] to their homes,” the UNHRC said in a statement, “impeding their access to public services and marginalizing them”. The ruling, handed down by a committee of 18 independent experts, judged that the women affected had not been given the right to manifest their religious beliefs. “The State has not demonstrated how the full veil presents a threat in itself for public security to justify this absolute ban,” the UNHRC said, recommending the country introduce measures to prevent similar violations. “The Committee was not persuaded by France’s claim that a ban on face covering was necessary and proportionate from a security standpoint or for attaining the goal of ‘living together’ in society.” France must now report to the committee within 180 days on the actions it has taken to implement the landmark ruling, though panel cannot legally enforce their decision.

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