Egyptian MP withdraws draft law on niqab ban after angry response

Egyptian women in Alexandria during the 2018 presidential election. Calls to ban the niqab have been widely rejected. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Egyptian MP withdraws draft law on niqab ban after angry response

  • Ghada Agamy said the face veil had become a source of sedition in Egyptian society
  • But her proposed law received little backing among MPs

CAIRO: An Egyptian MP has withdrawn a draft law to ban women wearing the niqab in public places after the proposal sparked a wave of anger.
Ghada Agamy said the face veil had become a source of sedition in Egyptian society when she introduced the plan last week.
The draft law proposed that all women would be prohibited from wearing the niqab in public places.
She suggested a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($56) for those who broke the ban and the fine should double as the act was repeated.
“Niqab aims to change the moderate character of Islam in Egypt and reflects the extremist ideology of Salafist movements, not to mention that it has split society into those with niqab and those without,” Agamy said.
But on Thursday she withdrew the draft law saying that she did not want to create a rift in Egyptian society and that the purpose was to confront the crimes using the niqab.
Agamy denied any political pressure saying: “My voice comes from my head and I withdrew to avoid divisions.”
The MP floated the idea last month after Algeria introduced a niqab ban in the workplace.
But many MPs and Egyptians rejected theidea, saying it violated individual freedoms, and that it may lead to further strife in the country, which became politically divided after the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
Engineer Sally Ahmed, a Cairo resident, said no one has the right to ban the niqab.
“The modesty and shyness of women is something imposed in Islam and must originate from her respect for her religion and herself and her family,” Ahmed said. “If some extremists use this as a curtain to hide their terrorist acts that is not evidence that a lady with a Niqab is a terrorist too.”

But MP Mohamed Abu Hamed suggested the government should issue a decision to ban the niqab for employees in government agencies, similar to Algeria.
However, he admitted the draft law included articles against public freedoms and violated Egypt’s constitution.
“We have two Islamic countries, Tunisia and Algeria, that have imposed a ban on the niqab in public places, not to mention that France currently has the same ban,” said Abu Hamed. “Several militant movements have used women wearing niqabs to carry out terrorist acts, kidnap children or assassinate public figures,” Abu Hamed said.
The UN Human Right Committee said last month that  France’s 2010 niqab ban violated the rights of two women who were fined for wearing full-face veils in public.
 


Iran sentences 3 rights lawyers to prison

Updated 23 min 1 sec ago
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Iran sentences 3 rights lawyers to prison

  • The two were arrested in August when they took part in a protest outside parliament calling for free elections
  • The Hamshari daily meanwhile reported that a court in the central city of Arak sentenced another lawyer to 13 years in prison

TEHRAN: Iran has sentenced two human rights lawyers to six years in prison and a third to 13 years, newspapers reported Tuesday.
The Arman daily said Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi and Arash Keikhosravi were sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in an “illegal gathering” and one year for “propaganda” against the ruling system. It says they can appeal the verdict.
The two were arrested in August when they took part in a protest outside parliament calling for free elections. They were released on bail last week.
Sholeh-Saadi, 64, a longtime critic of the political establishment, was barred from running for president in 2017.
Iran holds regular presidential and parliamentary elections, but a council of clerics vets candidates. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final word on all major policies.
The Hamshari daily meanwhile reported that a court in the central city of Arak sentenced another lawyer to 13 years in prison.
It said Mohammad Najafi was sentenced to 10 years for “conveying information to a hostile country” through interviews with foreign media, two years for insulting the supreme leader and one year for publicity in support of opposition groups.
Najafi was jailed in January when he voiced support for people detained that month during anti-government protests. The demonstrations, which focused on economic grievances, lasted for days and resulted in the deaths of dozens and the arrest of hundreds more.