Indonesia university revokes niqab ban after criticism

A student wearing a niqab face veil stages a protest against the ban on wearing niqabs on university grounds at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta. The university has reversed the policy after criticisms it trampled on personal choice. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2018
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Indonesia university revokes niqab ban after criticism

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia: An Indonesian university whose ban on niqab face veils made global headlines has reversed the policy following criticism that it trampled on personal choice.
Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Indonesia’s cultural capital Yogyakarta issued the edict last week to more than three dozen niqab-wearing students — and warned they could be expelled for non-compliance.
The school, which has about 10,000 students, had said the now-canceled rule was aimed at countering religious extremism in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country.
“The guidance concerning students using a face veil will be revoked in order to maintain an academic climate that is conducive to fairness,” said a statement issued by the university at the weekend.
Backers of the new rules said wearing the full veil with a small slit for the eyes was not a religious obligation, but critics saw the anti-niqab appeal as impinging on individual rights.
Another school in Yogyakarta, Ahmad Dahlan University, has also urged students not to wear the niqab — without penalty for non-compliance — while several Indonesian universities have issued niqab bans in the past.
Although niqabs are common in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states, they’re rare in secular Indonesia, where around 90 percent of its 260 million people have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam, and are often seen as an unwelcome Arab export.
Indonesia’s reputation as a bastion of progressiveness and religious tolerance has recently been tested by a government push to outlaw gay and pre-marital sex.
The conservative lurch comes as once-fringe Islamic political parties move into the mainstream.
The niqab has been at the center of a heated global debate over religious freedom and women’s rights, with France the first European country to ban it in public spaces.


UK PM May calls US images of of migrant children ‘deeply disturbing’

Updated 11 min 14 sec ago
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UK PM May calls US images of of migrant children ‘deeply disturbing’

  • "This is wrong,” Prime Minster Theresa May told MPs
  • May said she would raise the issue with Trump next month

LONDON: British Prime Minster Theresa May on Wednesday said images from the United States of migrant children being held in cages were “deeply disturbing” and that she would press President Donald Trump on the issue.
“On what we have seen in the United States, pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing... this is wrong,” she told MPs.
May said she would raise the issue with Trump when the pair meet in Britain next month.
“When we disagree with the United States we tell them so,” she told MPs.
“But we also have some key shared interests with the United States in the security and defense field and on other areas as well.
“And it is right that we are able to sit down and discuss those with the president.”
Trump told Republican lawmakers Tuesday he backed their efforts to craft an immigration solution that ends the politically toxic practice of separating illegal migrant families on the US-Mexico border.