Citing security threats, Egyptian Parliament close to banning niqab

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In this June 14, 2014 file photo, an Egyptian woman walks past a vehicle carrying anti-riot police officers deployed to secure a protest against sexual harassment in Cairo, Egypt. (AP)
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Niqab-clad women line up to vote during a 2014 election. (AFP
Updated 09 April 2017

Citing security threats, Egyptian Parliament close to banning niqab

CAIRO: A number of Egyptian lawmakers announced on Friday that they would soon refer to the parliament a draft-law that prevents women from wearing the niqab in state institutions, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
The lawmakers asserted that “such a law was necessary for security reasons and as a preventive measure to confront terrorism and extremism.”
The Board of State Commissioners recommended the Supreme Administrative Court to issue a final decision in support of banning academic staff from wearing the niqab in all of Cairo’s state universities.
The number of women wearing the full niqab veil in Egypt has increased dramatically in the past years particularly with the rise of the political Islam movements.
Cairo University has in the past two years been placing a number of restrictions on wearing the niqab, banning women wearing the full-face veil inside its affiliated hospitals.
Earlier, an official decision was issued to ban the niqab inside classrooms, a move supported by the Supreme Administrative Court.
In 2009, Egypt’s Al-Azhar University banned the niqab during exams. The decision is not applicable anymore.
Observers expect that lawmakers from the political Islam movements and the Nour party would strongly object the draft-law.
However, parliamentary sources said: “The full-face veil represents a threat to state security and personal freedom. Women wearing the niqab are capable to hide their faces and make it impossible for anti-terrorism state institutions to uncover their identities.”
The sources added: “Several crimes and terrorist bombings were committed by men wearing this outfit. Those were capable to hide behind the niqab to escape security measures.”
The sources said Islam does not demand that women wear a niqab. “Covering the face is a not a Muslim tradition.”
The niqab, commonly worn in Egypt, consists of covering a woman’s head and her face, but only leaves the eyes visible.

Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 55 min ago

Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.