Syria bans face veil to help counter Islamic fundamentalism
Further to our report that Syria has been quietly implementing a ban on the face veil or niqab for teachers while Europe has been busy passing legislation to outlaw the burka, The Media Line has more on this story.
It reports that although the Syrian legislation stops short of criminalising the hijab (the head covering), it has outlawed the niqab in private and public universities and government-run schools. In June, the Syrian government transferred primary school teachers wearing the niqab to administrative positions.
So why is it doing this? Dr Ayla Gˆl, a visiting research fellow at the Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, says it is – at least partly – to counter the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
“Politically, the niqab is regarded as the most visible symbol of Islamic fundamentalism,” Gˆl said. “The Syrian decision to ban the niqab in public and private universities strengthens the government’s image of Syria as one of the most secular Arab countries. Since 9/11 terrorist attacks, Muslims not only in Syria but also in the Middle East have become more religious and put emphasis on the Islamic identity.”