Egypt’s prestigious al-Azhar University has barred students from wearing face-veils or Niqab in female-only classrooms and dormitories.
The al-Azhar supreme council, in a statement on Thursday, said that it has decided to ban students and teachers from wearing the Niqab inside female-only classrooms that are taught by women.
The ban extends to women dormitories and to schools affiliated with the university.
It said that the aim of the ban is to spread the spirit of confidence, unison, comfort and sound understanding between the teachers and their students.
The decision was announced by Sheik of al-Azhar Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, who was recently criticised for forcing a girl to take off her face-veil inside an institute affiliated with the university.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition bloc, has asked for his removal, describing his action as part of a larger plan to de-Islamise Egypt.
The statement said that the al-Azhar does not oppose the Niqab, which it said only a minority of Muslim scholars consider an obligation, but it opposes “imprinting it in the minds of girls.”
It said that the Niqab can be worn at home, in the streets and at school yards.
While a vast majority of Egyptian women wear head-scarves, few wear the Niqab.