Egyptian lawmaker Ghada Ajami told Egyptian Streets in a phone interview on Sunday that she had introduced to the country’s parliament a bill that would ban the face veil in public places, citing her concerns over a high percentage of crimes being committed in niqabs.
In the event of non-abidance, the bill stipulates 1,000 EGP ($55) in fines being slapped on women who continue to wear the niqab in public places like restaurants, parks or social and educational institutions. Repeated offenses will carry even higher fines, if the bill becomes law.
"Security troubles in Egypt are accelerating these bold decisions in light of attempts to target state institutions and increasing criminal and terrorist crime rates," she was earlier cited as saying by Cairo Scene.
By submitting the bill she essentially means to call attention to arrays of men who use women’s veils to commit crimes, including horrendous terrorist acts, in public spots.
Her point of view is being echoed by another lawmaker, Mohamed Abu Hamed, who is said to have been leading the drive to outlaw niqabs in the country.
“Some of the terrorist attacks that happened in the past were carried out by people wearing the niqab,” said Mohamed Abu Hamed, a lawmaker leading the drive for banning the niqab in Egypt. “Some men even wear them to escape police and commit crimes,” The Arab Weekly cited him as saying.
Egypt appears to have resorted to action after an earlier broad discussion on niqab issue, following in the footsteps of another North-African state, Algeria, barring women from wearing the face veil to work.
The Egyptian government has clamped down on political Islam following the ouster of Islamist President Muhammad Morsi, affiliated with the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. Salafist political groups, among which niqabs are especially popular, continue to operate in Egypt but their leverage has to a great extent been diminished.
Separately, a range of European nations recently banned burqas, loose floor-length garments, from public spaces, including Denmark, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, with the vast majority justifying the new legislation with similar security concerns.