When is the “Policizing” of Islam Coming to an End?

October 11, 2009 at 1:26 am (Weekly Posts) (, , , , , , , , )

"Niqab" or face-veil represents a radical school of thought in Islam, and that is the Salafism, and now is becoming a trend in Egypt.

The fact that Egyptians have been, for so long, known for their religiosity has helped me understand or at least absorb the anger they expressed when Sheikh Mohamed Tantawy, the dean Al Azhar university, banned wearing the face veil or “niqab”.
What I don’t understand about this issue is that why has the “niqab” been obligatory in women’s classes and dormitories because that is where the ban is called for. From my little religious background, “niqab” is to be worn when males are around, and that it is fine to have it off around the company of women. So, why the big fuss over banning it in such a situation?

After following the news over it, I found that what made it that big is the way the incident happened. On a visit to Al Azhar school for girls in Nasr City, the Sheikh asked one of the girls to talk off her face veil, for it is more of a tradition than it is a religious practice. But when the girl argued with him, he replied back in a disrespectful manner. That is what every newspaper is talking about.

I don’t comprehend what has happened to people’s minds. I believe this incident is proving more to me that our people is seeing religion only through the eyes of officials and religious figures, nothing more. For me, what the Sheikh is trying to implement is making sense to me. Even if he is going to make it pass on all other schools and universities.

Yes, I believe in individual freedom of expression, but being walking or driving next to a face-veiled or a “niqabi” doesn’t guarantee the security someone like me would expect for not knowing whether it is a man or a woman. The perfect example for that is the case a “niqabi” issued against The American University in Cairo, for not letting her in because of her “niqab”. I believe it is up to her to be face-veiled, but when refusing to reveal her simplest identity represented in her face deprives her of entering the institution.

The main conclusion I have reached out of this hot topic is that Islam in Egypt has become so highly “policized” that one doesn’t really know if the Muslim is a Muslim for his belief or a Muslim for an agenda. “Niqab” has become on rise in Egypt, so once feeling a threat, nothing is left but mobilizing people over whoever is representing this threat. The questions of who is behind this mobilization is up for many, or may be one, guesses.




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