Syria bans Islamic veils in universities

Secular regime cracks down on conservative Islam.

July 19, 2010 20:09
2 minute read.
Faiza Silmi, a 32-year-old Moroccan,wears a burka in France

Burka in France 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


DAMASCUS  — 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 Education Ministry issued the ban Sunday, according to a government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly.

France: Islamic veil ban passes vote
MK's discuss France-like Burka ban

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.

The billowing black robe known as a niqab is not widespread in Syria, although it has become more common recently — a move that has not gone unnoticed in a country governed by a secular, authoritarian regime.

"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.

Syria is the latest country to weigh in on the veil, perhaps the most visible hallmark of conservative Islam. The wearing of veils has spread in other secular-leaning Arab countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, as well, with Jordan's government trying to discourage it by playing up reports of robbers who wear veils as masks.

Turkey also bans Muslim headscarves in universities, with many saying attempts to allow them in schools amount to an attack on modern Turkey's secular laws.

European countries including France, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands are considering bans on the grounds that the veils are degrading to women.

France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing burqa-style Islamic veils on July 13 in an effort to define and protect French values, a move that angered many in the country's large Muslim community.

Opponents say such bans violate freedom of religion and will stigmatize all Muslims.

Duaa, a 19-year-old university student in Damascus, said she hopes to continue wearing her niqab to classes when the next term begins in the fall despite the ban.

Otherwise, she said, she will not be able to study.

"The niqab is a religious obligation," said Duaa, who asked that her surname not be used because she was not comfortable speaking publicly on the issue. "I cannot go without it."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

May 19, 2019
Far-right party scandal rattles Austrian politics ahead of EU elections