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Egypt considers banning burqa

Nov. 6, 2018 4:55 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 8, 2018 11:59 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Egypt is currently debating about a new draft law that would prevent women from wearing a burqa in public spaces as part of the Egyptian government campaign against extremist interpretations of Islam.

The burqa, used mainly in Islamic cultures, is the most restrictive form of head-wear for women that covers the entire face, neck and head with a veil, allowing sight only through a mesh screen around the eyes.

The Jerusalem Post news outlet reported that over the weekend, an Egyptian lawmaker, Ghada Ajami, submitted a bill in the Egyptian parliament calling for a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($56) for women who would disregard the proposed ban.

In addition, the fine would double if repeated.

Ajami stressed that the purpose of the bill is "to support the state's efforts in fighting terrorism."

According to a copy of the draft bill, it states that the burqa would be prohibited in Egyptian public spaces "at any time and under any circumstances."

The public spaces include cinemas, museums, hospitals, health clinics, educational facilities, public libraries and government buildings.

Sources also reported that Ahmad Sharbini, an Egyptian political analyst, said "Egypt is going through a period of instability because of radical Islamic groups operating within the country."

He added that the burqa creates a security problem as "many male and female terrorists use it to hide their identities or sneak into places."

"If passed, this legislation would not infringe [on] freedoms or go against religions. Public safety and national security are more important than anything."

Sharbini stressed that the burqa is particularly used among extremist Muslims, which conflicts with norms in Egyptian society, "We refuse radical ideologies in general, and when it comes to Islamic law, women are not obligated to cover their faces, though it has become a tradition in some Muslim countries."

A Palestinian Imam, Mustafa Abu Sweh, said that the burqa is "not mentioned in Quran and Islamic scholars have long disagreed on whether it is an obligation or choice for Muslim women to cover their faces."

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