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.


Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

Updated 15 min 13 sec ago

Turkey sends armed drone to N.Cyprus amid gas dispute

  • The breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles
  • A recent agreement between Turkey and Libya claims extensive areas of sea for Turkey in the Mediterranean

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus: A Turkish military drone was delivered to northern Cyprus on Monday amid growing tensions over Turkey’s deal with Libya that extended its claims to the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean.
The Bayraktar TB2 drone landed in Gecitkale Airport in Famagusta around 0700 GMT, an AFP correspondent said, after the breakaway northern Cyprus government approved the use of the airport for unmanned aerial vehicles.
It followed a deal signed last month between Libya and Turkey that could prove crucial in the scramble for recently discovered gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.
The agreement claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey, undercutting claims by Greece and the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which runs the southern part of the island.
Analysts say Turkey was pushing back against rival efforts to claim exploration rights in the area after Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and Israel excluded Turkey from a new “East Mediterranean Gas Forum” that also includes Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is only recognized by Turkey, said approval for the drone was given last week “in light of the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean region” and “to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the TRNC and Turkey.”
The TRNC’s transport minister, Tolga Atakan, said Turkish drones were partly a response to the acquisition of Israeli drones by Cyprus in October to monitor its exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a coup sponsored by the Greek military junta.
Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.
Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member, and says the TRNC has the right to explore around the entire island.