Egypt's rulers divided over schoolgirl veils

TWO DEPARTMENTS of the Egyptian government are at loggerheads over the banning of the hijab - the Islamic headscarf - from girls' schools.

A row has flared between the secular, liberal-dominated Education Ministry, which banned girls from wearing the veil in school, and al-Azhar (the official Islamic church) backed by the Ministry of Religious Endowment, which condemned the decision of the Education Minister, Hussein Kamel Bahaa-el-Dine. Mr Bahaa-el-Dine's administrative order compelling girls' secondary schools to impose a single uniform was intended to settle the argument about the veil.

Mr Bahaa-el-Dine's decision was prompted by the findings of a committee which investigated parents' complaints that their teenage daughters were being taught extreme views and had been intimidated by some ultra- orthodox Muslim teachers into taking up the veil. The committee recommended removing more than 1,000 teachers from teaching duties and suspending more than 200 for 'forcing their political views on pupils and interfering with the curriculum'.

The liberal Dr Bahaa-el- Dine did not anticipate the swift counter-attack by the clergy and fundamentalists. They mobilised al-Azhar to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, condemning his decision as an attempt 'to ban young women from covering their hair as Islam required'.

Al-Azhar's swift reaction is unprecedented. 'This is new to Egypt,' said the liberal Egyptian historian Ahmad Osman. 'Making an issue of the veil is turning the clock back some 80 years.' He noted that in the past only extreme Muslims forced women to cover their hair by intimidation or shouting abuse, and al-Azhar has never before issued a fatwa limiting individual choice, let alone contradicting government policy.

Under pressure, Mr Bahaa- el-Dine retreated and said headmistresses could not insist that girls should remove the veil. Meanwhile the Minister of Religious Endowment endorsed al-Azhar and called for teachers who encouraged Muslim girls to remove the veil to be prosecuted.

Mr Barhaa-el-Dine's retreat was criticised by the liberal Wafd party and left-wing oposition groups. The incident has boosted the credibility of secular Egyptian politicians and feminist groups who have argued for more than a year that Islamic extremists were becoming increasingly influential in Egyptian political life.

News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?