Egypt women dodge niqab ban

2010-01-10 17:48

Cairo - A number of female students wore surgical masks at Cairo University to circumvent a government ban on the full face veil in exams, an independent Egyptian newspaper reported on Sunday.

The government, which said it brought in the ban because male and female students were using the face veil to disguise themselves as other candidates, has been wary of Islamist thinking, fighting the growing influence of strict Saudi-based Wahhabi ideology.

Mohamed Saleh, the dean of the Faculty of Science at Cairo University in Egypt's capital, monitored exam rooms on Saturday to ensure the ban was implemented, ordering supervisors to withhold exam papers from women who chose to wear the veil.

He allowed some students to wear surgical masks to cover their faces instead, al Masry al Yowm newspaper said.

"Any student who wears the niqab during an exam will have her paper withdrawn and will be treated as though she has cheated," Saleh was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

The ban on the niqab, upheld by a court last week, has bounced back and forth among various courts after the minister of higher education imposed it in October.