- Human RightsWomen
- October 9, 2009
- 2 minutes read
Al- Azhar Imam under fire for decision to ban
Sheikh Mohamed Sayyed Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and , the Muslim-majority country’s top religious authority, has vowed to ban the niqab (the veil which covers the entire face) in all schools linked to Al-Azhar.
Tantawi had ordered a school girl to remove her niqab during a visit to a school earlier this week, telling her the face-veil is “a tradition and has nothing to do with Islam.”
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is appointed by the president of Egypt and is treated, in terms of protocol and salary, on equal footing with the prime minister. Nevertheless he has been showered with angry comments and is now under fire from many.
Tantawi’s critics were not against his view about the "niqab" but rather his decision to ban it. The banning is initially unconstitutional.
Hamdy Hassan from the Muslim Brotherhood movement parliamentary bloc has angrily voiced his personal opinion telling Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday, October 7. "Tantawi must not stay in his post; he offends Al-Azhar every time he says something". He questioned the decision expressing that it was a religious institution which must be allowed its freedom".
Sheikh Ali Abu al-Hasan, the former head of the Fatwa Council at the Islamic Studies Institute (ISI) in Cairo, agrees adding that "No official has the right to order a young lady to remove a form of dress that was sanctioned by none other than Umar ibn al-Khattab, except for the purposes of identification for security reasons.
Hossam Bahgat, of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, accused the government of "arbitrary" measures against women who wear the niqab.
Hamdy Hassan concluded his statement ascertaining that He believes the niqab is not an obligation, but rather a benefit".