DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria's Education Ministry has issued a ban on the face-covering Islamic veil from the country's universities to prevent what it sees as a threat to its secular identity, as similar moves in Europe spark cries of discrimination against Muslims.
The ban was issued Sunday, according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly.
The ban, which affects public and private universities, is only against the niqab — a full Islamic veil that reveals only a woman's eyes — not headscarves, which are far more commonly worn by Syrian women.
"We have given directives to all universities to ban niqab-wearing women from registering," the government official told The Associated Press on Monday.
The niqab "contradicts university ethics," he added, saying the government was seeking to protect its secular identity.
He also confirmed that hundreds of primary school teachers who were wearing the niqab at government-run schools were transferred last month to administrative jobs.